I had a conversation a while ago with my two youngest children, and they asked me that if something doesn’t happen immediately after you pray, or when someone else prays for you, does that mean it hasn’t happened at all or is it that you can’t see it, and you need to keep believing?
We talked about several instances in the bible where Jesus spoke into situations or to people and what happened as a result. We deduced that God doesn’t always do the same things in answer to our requests and prayer. Plus, just because we can’t physically see something happening does not mean nothing is happening!
Sometimes the answer is instantly obvious such as when Jesus and his disciples found themselves in the middle of a furious storm. Jesus got up and spoke to the wind and the waves; the wind and waves died down, and everything went completely calm.
Yet other times when Jesus spoke into a situation, nothing immediately and visibly seemed to change. An example is when Jesus and his disciples were walking along the road, and Jesus was hungry and came to a fig tree that had no fruit. He spoke to the fig tree and said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. The fig tree, however, didn’t suddenly shrivel up instantly before Jesus and his disciple’s eyes. No! Nothing looked like it had changed, yet on returning the next morning along “that road again, they all saw the fig tree had withered from the roots.
“Peter remembered and said to Jesus “, Rabbi, look! The tree you cursed has withered!” (Mark 11:14; 20-21)
So often, when we pray or receive prayer, we can miss what God is doing or give up on our faith because we underestimate what God is doing behind the scenes or beneath the surface, and we mistakenly presume nothing has happened.
But Jesus’ example in prayer teaches us that:
We receive the things we speak and ask for by faith. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their lack of belief and faith. He encouraged them after seeing the result and power of faith-filled words to “Have faith in God, and “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22-24).
If we lack faith, the bible says to seek God and His way of doing things and to build our confidence in His ability by hearing and speaking His Word. His Word and He are one, and it’s powerful when it gets down on the inside of us, and we allow it to transform us from the inside out.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
2. Things don’t always happen the same way twice. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and you’ll soon discover that Jesus didn’t always pray, speak and minister the same way. Sometimes He just spoke the Word; sometimes, He spoke and physically did something, such as putting mud on people’s eyes or spitting on them.
Seek God for His methods and way of working in each situation you face, rather than acting in presumption.
3. The answer to our prayer is not always immediately visible. The fig tree looked like any other tree even after Jesus spoke to it. Yet, at Jesus’ spoken Word, something began to change. That tree beneath the surface, at its core and root, had begun to shrivel up. Jesus’ words and faith had already worked, but it was only the next morning that the disciples could “see it”.
When you pray or receive prayer for something, don’t look simply in the physical realm for evidence of your answer. Stand believing in the truth of God’s Word and the effective power of your prayer, knowing that “whatever we ask for in prayer will be ours if we continue to believe and speak God’s word”. (Mark 11:22-24)
Today, be encouraged that when you pray, God will be working. Even if you can’t see anything physically, don’t underestimate that He will be working behind the scenes, at the root of the issue, and inside us. Take heart and trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness as you praise Him for your answers.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that at your word things change and that even if I can’t see the changes, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Please help me to keep believing in your promises and to trust that you are in control. In Jesus name Amen.