I have prayed and prayed and prayed for a specific outcome for almost a year. I have really prayed too; almost daily for it. I knew that for this particular prayer to be answered, this matter needed significant prayer time.
Significant. Prayer. Time.
This morning, the answer came.
Unfortunately, it was not the result that our family had prayed for – not in the least.
In fact, the answer brings with it a whole new set of challenges for us that will need to be devoted to prayer for an appreciable amount of time once again.
To say I am disappointed is an understatement. The prayer request was denied – based upon a set of man-made reasons.
Yet, even as I continue to digest the ramifications of this particular impasse, I have learned by experience that although my prayers were not answered as I would have liked them to be, it does not mean that my God did not hear me nor does it mean that He did not show my family favor. He did. In ways I do not yet see nor completely comprehend at this moment, I choose to receive the mercy and love of my God has sent through this apparent denial. I choose to revel and find my comfort in His Care and in His Presence.
Yes, I choose to receive this mercy offered by my God.
If I only expect God to answer prayers the way I want Him to, I restrict Him with my finite wishes, myopic plans and incomplete vision. My God cannot and will not be restricted by what I tell Him to do. He loves me too much. He loves my family too much to grant us finite wishes.
I like what Matthew Henry says, “It is was not my prayer that fetched deliverance, but his mercy that sent it.”
Christ followers place great emphasis upon the power and significance of prayer. Please don’t get me wrong – Prayer is powerful. Prayer is significant. Yet, what makes our prayers powerful and significant are that they reach the ears of Jesus Christ, our Blessed Redeemer, High Priest and the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer in that He has brought salvation to all. He is the Great High Priest who ministers for us. Jesus Christ is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. As we trust in His care, He shepherds our hearts and our prayers before the throne of grace. Our Heavenly Father, then, answers our prayers that will ultimately bring glory to Himself and fulfill His plans and purposes for our good whether the answer was how we hoped or not.
Yes, even though the denial of my request brought disappointment, ultimately, I have a choice in how I will continue to receive it and its consequences.
For me, I choose to accept this answer with ruthless trust.
Brennan Manning wrote these words:
The way of trust is a movement into obscurity, into the undefined, into ambiguity, not into some predetermined, clearly delineated plan for the future. The next step discloses itself only out of a discernment of God acting in the desert of the present moment. The reality of naked trust is the life of the pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise.” From Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin’s Path to God
God said “No” to my year-long prayer.
But God did not say “No” to me.
I embrace Manning’s words that God’s Presence and His Promise are enough – even as our family walks forward into a time of obscurity.
What about you? Are you praying and praying and praying for something and wonder if God will say “No” as He did to me – this time?
Can you say that no matter what the outcome of your prayer, God’s Presence and Promise are enough for today and for tomorrow?
God’s answers to our prayers offer us so much more than what we ask for…even when the answers are clothed in merciful garments of denial.