On delayed answers to prayer

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Prayer is an integral part of the Christian life. One cannot be a Christian without prayer. But even for those who have been Christians for a long time, there is mystery in prayer. One form of mystery is why sometimes the answer to prayer doesn’t come in a satisfactory time frame.

In his book, Faith Tried and Triumphant, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:

“If God were unkind enough to answer some of our prayers at once, and in our way, we should be very impoverished Christians. Fortunately, God sometimes delays his answer in order to deal with selfishness or things in our lives which should not be there.”

Two things in this statement jump out at me:

  1. God’s timing may not be our timing. We want a response now but God may determine that we are not yet ready for the answer.
  2. We may have an idea of how God should answer our prayer, but he will give the perfect answer in the perfect time whether it lines up with our expectation or not.

If God is who he has revealed himself to be, then we should approach prayer with humility. While we are encouraged to be persistent in prayer and we are encouraged to expect an answer, we should be open to the idea that God’s answer may be different and better than what we expect.