Do you remember the birthdays where you sat behind the glowing candles staring at the delicious treat in front of you? The last words before you blew out the candles were a chorus of “make a wish”.
We would scrunch up our little faces with all our might and close our eyes, hoping and praying that our wish would come true as we blew out those glowing sticks.
The excitement of the rest of the birthday, usually gave way to us forgetting that wish in a few quick minutes. But we hoped, nonetheless.
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Our wishes may have seemed extravagant or far-fetched. They may have seemed unattainable or heart wrenching. But our wishes and desires were ours and uniquely woven into our own story.
Even as I pray for my own kids, I realize that my desires for them are different than their own. I can see a bigger picture. I have a clearer perspective than their 8, 10, and 13-year-old world view.
Likewise, God, has a clearer perspective than my 43-year-old view. My life in the “scope” of eternity has a different look from His angle.
I am learning, slowly, that there are three ways God answers prayers and these answers may look different than I anticipate.
Answers Require a Sifting
The act of sifting used to be common for nearly every baking recipe I encountered. Sifting is a process that causes the participant to be made finer. When I put my flour through a sifting, I am causing it to be broken up and perfected in its ability to bind to the other ingredients.
This is equally true of life. As I allow God to mold and shape me, I am allowing His sifting to complete its work in me. I am being made finer and this allows Christ to be seen in me on clearer level.
Women in Scripture saw and experienced this repeatedly. Think of the many years Ruth waited for a new husband, Hannah for a baby to hold, or Esther to save her people. God uses these times of sifting to help us grow in our faith and become more like Him.
This sifting allows us experience God at a whole new level. Job was able to claim at the end of his own sifting process “But he knows the way I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold”. (Job 23:10, ESV) Our anticipation of answers to our prayers bring about something beautiful.
Answers Require a Future Perspective
God answers prayers with the future in mind. God asks for our obedience as we wait. He knows what is happening now will impact the future.
As I raise my children, I am teaching them to respond properly to authority, take criticism with grace, and learn responsibility and obedience. In doing these things, I am setting them up for success in driving, having curfews, or making job decisions.
God sees our future. He knows the beginning to the end. He knows what is coming and what necessary skills and wisdom I will need.
My frustrations over His answers or timing are reminders that God’s ways are different than mine. “Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you may have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3, ESV)
His answers may not make sense, but in hindsight they are clear. God’s good is always pursuing us.
Answers Allow His Glory to Be Magnified
God’s never-ending love is always chasing after us. In whatever way God answers our prayers, my faith hinges on whether I trust Him to be God.
He doesn’t desire to kick us down. He wants us to thrive and be abundant, for this is what life is made of. God’s time on earth was meant for redeeming a lost world while pointing them to a place of security, hope and peace.
In my striving for answers and waiting for results, am I allowing God to be glorified? This is a question that has resounded through me, especially throughout our current global crisis.
God, in His holiness, still sits on HIS throne interceding on our behalf. My responsibility as a daughter of the King is to continue to praise Him, even in the uncertain and murky waters of life.
When Jesus stood outside the tomb of His dear friend, Lazarus, , I often wonder what it was that caused the pause in His seemingly endless miracles. My human heart struggles with understanding the lengths of grief He allowed His dear friends and followers to endure.
I am always struck by Jesus question to Martha and His prayer to God.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’ So, they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe you have sent me.’…The man who had died came out…” (John 11: 40-41, 44, ESV)
Even in the despairs of death God is glorified.
So, as you approach your prayers today, what is your mindset about the answers? We all have wishes and desires, and just like a sweet face blowing out the candles, we hope with all our might that they come true.
As we wait on God and trust in HIS goodness, we can be confident in His desire to show us only good. His answers to our prayers have as much of a purpose as the prayer itself. Let’s not get discouraged in our waiting, because God can’t stop giving to His children.
Laura E. Sumpter is passionate about teaching women and children about the hope found in the Lord. She writes to encourage women, believing that when they are strengthened, future generations will be as well.
Laura lives in the Willamette Valley of the Pacific Northwest. She has an amazing husband of nearly 17 years, three busy fun kids and has been a teacher for over 20 years. When she isn’t writing or teaching, Laura enjoys reading, creating, gardening, and a good latte in any form. You can find the lessons God is teaching her at her blog https://lauraesumpter.com/ and as a contributor on Anchored Voices.