You just never know how God is going to answer your prayers. We usually think it will be pretty straightforward. We ask God to do something for us. We pray for healing. We ask God to intervene in our circumstances. We lift up a prayer for a new car, a job opportunity, or to fulfill some other desire of our heart. Either it happens or it doesn’t.
If our prayers aren’t answered right away, we take the lack of action on God’s part as a “No!” We figure either he doesn’t want us to have what we are asking for, or even worse, that God doesn’t care. That’s because we want an answer now. Maybe we have bought into the idea that prayer works like Aladdin’s magic lamp. Rub it a certain way and your wishes are granted.
In reality, answered prayer often comes in unexpected ways. You just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Events line up. People show up. Coincidences happen and you suddenly experience the power of answered prayer. It is only when you look back that you begin to see that the hand of God was in it all.
That’s my story. At the end of last summer I was fretting because the paint on my deck was starting to peel. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew it needed power-washing. Yet, either I was going to have to pay someone to do it or find a friend who would do it. I remember praying and asking God to help me figure out how to get it done.
Winter comes and I forget all about it. Meanwhile plans begin to fall in place for our short-term mission trip to Puerto Rico.
It is only after we arrive that I learn that I won’t be playing the “donut man” this time. Instead of providing refreshments for the team, I was told that they needed me to work with a team doing roof repairs.
Don’t worry. They didn’t ask me to wield a hammer. But in order to repair the roofs and weatherproof them, they needed us to power-wash them first. So all week long, I was on the roof working with a power-washer. I wasn’t happy then. I laugh about it now because on the third day it hit me that this was God’s doing. He was answering my prayers about the deck.
That’s how God works. He answers prayer in his own way. Our Jewish friends are remembering the way God answered prayer as they come together to celebrate the Passover. Their celebration reminds them that God heard their cries and sent a deliverer to release them from the bondage of slavery. His name was Moses. He came to set his people free.
Speaking about freedom, Christians around the world celebrate Holy Week, and remember that God heard our prayers too. In a fallen world, where sin separates us and leaves us isolated and defeated, God sent a deliverer. Our sins were nailed to his cross and in three days God raised him from the dead as a sign that a new day has dawned. His name was Jesus.
So don’t be discouraged if God hasn’t answered your prayer yet. I’m sure he has got something special planned for you. Let the Holy days remind you that God is listening. Trust him. For in his time, God will always make a way.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.