Have you ever prayed for something for years? Were your prayers answered? Were they answered the way you hoped?
There is a popular saying — Prayer Changes Things. Does it?
St. Monica, a patron saint of mothers, prayed for her son to turn from his ungodly lifestyle for 17 years. He turned out to be the influential St. Augustine who has impacted millions throughout the ages and is the author of numerous written works. Not all stories end this well, but nevertheless, it speaks to perseverance in prayer and a mother’s love.
Then there was Sarah in the Old Testament (Genesis 17:15-19) who was barren and well past child-bearing years. God promised her a child but in her impatience, she made some mistakes along the way. Then at God’s appointed time, it miraculously happened, despite all odds.
This gives us hope for perseverance in prayer. If it’s in God’s will, nothing will stop it.
I have had occasions where it has taken years for a specific prayer to be answered–for a mate, for a child and so on. When I fervently persevered in prayer for a child, I got triplets. God has a funny sense of humor. Mother Teresa said, “More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.” Keep that in mind. Be careful what you pray for.
Yet what do we do when the years roll by and our prayers aren’t answered in a timely way or as we would hope? This is when we need to consider the journey. Prayer is not just about asking, it’s about relationship, a relationship with our Creator. We can ponder: What have we learned on this journey? How has this period of waiting changed us?
- We learn patience for one thing.
- We learn to trust God’s plan and timing. (as if we have a choice!)
- We grow closer to God by spending more time with Him.
- We increase our faith.
- We learn to keep trudging along and come to realize all the other blessings in our life we continue to have, as well as receive, while we wait.
- We learn an openness and receptiveness to whatever God may have for us. It could be something we didn’t even expect or light years better than what we could have hoped.
Sometimes, we need to just pray for the strength to get through whatever our trial is, which can then change our attitude and ability to cope, if not the situation itself. So we gain an acceptance of the situation. Thy will be done, all the while learning to cast our cares upon Him.
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.Jeremiah 29:11
We trust that God loves us and knows what we need. Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” God sees the future we cannot see. He has the blueprints.
And this is just on a personal level. What about the bigger picture? People throughout the ages have had to pray for years, often decades, for their country to return to freedom or more recently, for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.
Some of these world issues require the prayers of a great many people over a large span of time and most of them will not even live to see the fruits of their efforts. But it must be done, to improve all of our lives and to save the future of humanity. We must have faith that prayer, does indeed, change things.
In the end, we will be strengthened from our journey through perseverance in prayer. We will become what God is molding us to be through His plan and purpose for us. He does not wish to do us harm but desires for us to grow and strengthen our relationship with Him. At times that means He has to put us through trials and waiting so that we can learn valuable lessons. Just as a loving father teaches his children and gives them what they need, yet does not always give them everything they want. Ultimately, we learn that if we cling to the God who made us and persevere, in the end, prayer does change things!
“Do not be troubled if you do not receive from God immediately what you ask Him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.”Evagrius Ponticus