“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind.
Is anything too hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:26 NIV
It is a beautiful summer morning in North Carolina. I’m pretty sure that today it will be a hot one! But today, in the garden of my heart, the season is spring! In my mind I anticipate a comfortable spring day as I head for the garden in search of new green plant shoots pushing their way through the winter soil. As I walk I just can’t help singing! “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, oh what a beautiful morning, everything’s going my way!” In the distance I spy some beautiful yellow tulips raising their heads to the sky as they welcome the morning sunlight. It occurs to me that this is a wonderful way to anticipate answers to my prayers. God, it is a beautiful morning, I lift my head in praise because I believe with all my heart that everything that I pray for is going to come my way!
If I really believe this then why do I allow Satan's lies to influence my thinking and make me falsely believe that some of my prayers are impossible and will never be answered? God’s Word teaches exactly the opposite. “…How gracious he will be when you cry for help. As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” Isaiah 30:19 It is possible I might feel uncertain because I fear the results. I want the outcome of my prayers to be according to my will not God’s will and I fear he will not agree with me. On the other hand, I often view God's delays as a "no" instead of a delay of love. I must be willing to wait for God's perfect timing. Most of the time I want the answer and I want it now! I must confess there have also been times when I wondered if God even heard my prayer.
I also think that many times I don't believe that my God is big enough to get the job done. All of these scenarios really do seem like big problems but actually, they should be of no concern to me at all! To live more positively regarding answers to prayer I must investigate what God says about prayer. I must simply believe that God loves “the impossible” and that he is up to the task of answering all of my prayers in one way or another. I must believe that all of his answers will work for my eternal good.
I have pondered why I would want something I think is good if God has something better? God’s word says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
I have also contemplated this question. Why would I want an answer immediately when God knows that “now” is not in my best interest? “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NIV God determines our steps because he alone knows the future. God’s delays are often delays of love designed for my protection, my spiritual refinement, and his glory.
God’s Word is very clear on two points. One is that God does hear our prayers. Point two is that the answer is released in heaven even before we finish praying. “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24 and “Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.” Genesis 24:15a NIV (Emphasis mine.) Additional reading Genesis 24:1-27.
Another point of consideration is why would I even bother to ask God if I don’t believe he is great enough to get the job accomplished? “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:6-8 NIV (Emphasis mine.)
You see, the message here is that God hears me and releases the answer for every prayer I pray while I am still praying. However, God says nothing of when he will deliver the answer. It is good to know that the moment we pray and even before we finish praying the answer is released in heaven, but not necessarily delivered. We can take comfort in knowing that our request does not lie around in God’s “in box” forgotten because other requests keep piling up on top of our request. No, before we even stop praying God takes our request and stamps on it “done deal!” and places our request in his “out box”. It is also good to remember that God doesn’t even own a box marked “impossible”. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 NIV (Emphasis mine.)
Satan also likes to try to convince me that it is my fault my prayers are not answered. He suggests that my personal prayer performance is lacking because I do not pray hard enough or as frequently as I should about the situation. He also suggests that maybe I need to drum up a lot more faith! As a result, I chide myself because my imperfect prayer life is so lacking. I scold myself because my faith must not be strong enough to get God to answer my prayer or I would already have the answer. If that truly is the case, I wonder how big of a truck I need to haul my faith up to God’s throne room. Do I need a five ton dump truck or do I need a semi? What if I’m just one faith point shy of an answer?
But thankfully God’s Word simply says surrender your concerns and your prayers into my capable hands. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NIV Casting our cares and our prayers straight into the lap of God is the only work we need to do. “… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20a - 21b NIV (Emphasis mine.)
The small seed of faith simply believes that God is able to answer our prayer. We must also believe that the answer will be God’s best possible answer for our life or the life of the one we are praying for. The answer may be completely different than what we had hoped for because God sees the whole picture. But we can be at peace as a result of trusting that God will answer our prayer according to his perfect will. God promises us that he will work for our eternal good and for the eternal good of all concerned. Jesus’ prayer in the garden was not answered according to what he desired here on this earth, but rather the answer came as the perfect answer for the good of humanity. Most importantly, God answers prayer in a way that is designed to bring him glory. It is hard for me to remember that answers to prayer are always more about God and his glory then it is about me. I seem to get that truth backwards most of the time.
Sometimes God answers our prayer in a way that pleases us to pieces! Just picture God walking toward you with a great big grin on his face because once again he has done the impossible! God is getting ready to bless you and his glory is shinning all around his answer. The answer is such a “God thing” that you can not doubt that the “impossible answer” came straight from God’s hand and not yours. Never in your wildest dreams would you have thought of this answer! Now you are smiling, laughing, you are beside yourself with joy because this answer is amazing! The Bible is full of God doing the impossible! When God shows up with the answer he will come because the time is perfect. He will come when all things are in place and ready and not a moment before. His answer will be wrapped in love and blessing.
Praying for those we love to come to know Christ can be discouraging. It is important for us to remember God does not force himself on people, the choice is totally theirs. All we really can do is pray that God will call that individual. We can also pray that he would put people in their path to show them the way to Jesus. We can pray that God will speak to them through someone or something that they love. I have seen this happen over and over again. God is faithful to work in the life of unbelievers because believers pray. The Holy Spirit convicts them and shows them their need because people are praying. Remember, even though you may see no evidence that God is at work in that person’s life, he is! God goes to work on your prayer even before you stop praying. Sad to say, we may never witness the complete answer to many of our prayers during our lifetime. I am so thankful that God's delivery of the answer to my prayer is not contingent upon me breathing. Many answers to prayers are accomplished after the one who has prayed has gone on to heaven ahead of the answer. We can always be sure God was on the job doing his part yesterday, he is on the job today, and he will be on the job tomorrow. We pray and God is faithful to draw, yet accepting Christ is always up to the individual.
And so we pray. We present our request to God. We ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse and purify our prayer according to God’s perfect will. We immediately visualize that before we even stop praying God has begun to answer that prayer. We wait day after day. During this time of waiting our prayer begins to change. We no longer focus on the asking. Now in faith believing we began to focus every day on thanking God for the answer that has already been released in heaven and is on the way. We thank him because he has heard our prayer. We thank him because he is working in our behalf and on behalf of all those we love. We claim God’s answers not for the result we desire, the delivery date or the place of the answer, but rather we live in trusting knowledge that our prayer will be answered when all things are ready. We surrender and commit the final answer to God’s will and we wait in wild anticipation for the perfect surprise that he will choose to answer our prayer! We simply relinquish our control of the outcome into his hands.
I tell you that there has been no greater boost to my personal prayer life than praying this way. Praying with patient expectation always cements my trust. Praying in quietness and trust takes the burden off me and places it with God, where it belongs. In the past I have become exhausted trying to drum up faith and begging God for answers. Then one gloomy day God said to me, “Paula I have a better way. I simply want you to ask and then believe that I am more than able to accomplish what you have committed into my hands. You see, Paula that is trust!”
Believe it or not, when dealing with the impossible, God does not need any of our good ideas as to how to accomplish the answers to our prayers. However, he does need our prayers. God needs our prayers because prayer changes us and because God releases his power when believers pray. Remember, nothing is impossible for God! His mighty answers to our prayers are on the way. Lean into his everlasting arms and be amazed!
1. What are the top three things you pray about the most?
2. What prayer do you consider to be your most impossible prayer?
3. Have you ever considered thanking God for his answer that has already been released in heaven and is on the way?
4. Do you believe that prayer changes things?
5. How does prayer change you?
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that you are totally capable of answering all my prayers. Forgive me when I doubt your power and label my prayers as impossible. Forgive me when I try so hard to control the way you answer my prayers. Forgive me when I grow weary in praying the same prayers over and over again. Forgive me when I demand immediate answers to my prayers. Search my heart God and show me how I can surrender my prayers into your competent hands. Help me to begin to pray prayers of thanksgiving for the work you are doing on my behalf and in the lives of all the others that I am praying for. God, I pray that you would replace my doubts with trust. Give me your peace in my prayer life. I thank you God that you are not a deaf, uncaring, unloving god, but rather you are a God who loves me and dares to answer the impossible. Help me to remember that the way you answer prayer is more about you and less about me. Father, I know you are more than able to answer all of my requests according to your perfect will, even when I don’t understand your timing or your purpose I will choose to trust you.
It is in your Son’s name I pray, as I wait in great anticipation for your perfect answers. Amen.