“David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted and went in and lay all night repeatedly on the floor…and on the seventh day the child died.”
II Samuel 12: 16, 18
“Bathsheba’s Heartache –An Unanswered Prayer” Part 2
“All seeking is not in vain because it does not achieve its purpose as quickly as our impatience for God demands.”
Have there been requests I have made to God in prayer that went unanswered?
How does it make me feel when my prayers are not answered as I thought they should be?
“Let not that happen which I wish, but that which is right.”
“I have lived to thank God that all of my prayers have not been answered.”
My mother is one of the most devout people of prayer that I have ever met. Frequently, if I call her in the evening, her voice will sound soft and quiet and I’ll ask, “Are you feeling alright?” “Oh, yes,” she’ll reply, “I was just kneeling here praying.” And talk about a prayer list. Her personal list dwarfs mine. Many of the people she prays for are young people she and my dad ministered to throughout the years, some who have wandered away from their spiritual lives as they’ve been overwhelmed by worldly endeavors.
This is why, when some of you ask me for special prayer for extremely critical needs, one of the first people I call is my mom. I ask her to add another name to her expanding list.
Through the years, I’ve witnessed my mother praying for many people. When I was just six-years-old, I’ll never forget my baby cousin having a severe convulsion and my mother holding her sister, praying for the baby’s healing as the child was rushed to the hospital. God answered this prayer and many years later, I haven’t heard of my cousin ever having another problem like this.
I wish I could assure you that every prayer someone as fervent as my mother offered was answered the way they wanted, but this hasn’t happened. Nearly twenty-five years ago, as an ambulance rushed my father to the closest hospital, my mother was taken by car, following the howling sirens, all the while begging God to save my dad’s life. But after over an hour of every life-saving procedure possible, the doctors had to give my mother the dreadful news. My father had died.
It wasn’t just heart breaking that my mother’s prayer was not answered. It was the fact that for her, this was the one prayer she longed to have answered more than any other. I’ve found that in my own prayer life, it is the toughest to not get the answer I want to a prayer that means the most to me. These are the most difficult times we confront in our prayer lives.
I can remember my dad saying a long time ago that God always answers our prayers. He noted that the answer is, “Yes, No, or Wait a While.”
How we all love the, “Yes!” Especially when it is immediate and falls right in line with what we long for. But I’ll tell you, I struggle with, “No!” And I have little patience for, “Wait a while!”
How about you? What has happened in your life when your prayers weren’t answered in the time and in the way you wanted?
As our text tells us today, even though Nathan had told David that “his child” would die, David repeatedly fell on his face before God. And I can be certain that Bathsheba was praying as well. She loved her child and the thought of losing this baby must have broken her heart.
However, this prayer was not answered the way David or Bathsheba wanted. And the Bible is filled with stories of prayers that had delayed answers or an answer of, “No!” So some might question, as a friend of mine did not long ago, “Dorothy, why pray?”
I want to answer this question by looking first at “delayed” answers to our prayers. The author Frederick B. Meyer says that there is a secret to delayed answers to prayer: “Prayer is educative. The man who prays grows; and the muscles of the soul swell from this whipcord to iron bands.”
I must be honest with you, I couldn’t even have begun to understand the words above several years ago. Before Transformation Garden began I prayed, but not anywhere close to the way I pray now. I hate to admit it. Most of my prayers were like whipcords – reactive to situations, going to God when I had a need or request I wanted filled. But after four years of “Garden” praying, I see a glint of the “iron bands” in my prayer life. There is a strength and determination that won’t let go of God’s arm until the promised blessing, whatever it is, comes down from heaven. And let me tell you something, learning to pray through the delays has done more for me than I can tell you. About three yeas ago, I began to pray for Cathy. She came to the garden in such great need. I almost felt at times that my prayers were hitting the ceiling and bouncing back as she shared her continuing challenges. Then a month ago, I got an email. A new email address with this question, “Remember me?” Oh, yes I did and you won’t believe the transformation in her life. God’s given her a Christian husband. She’s reunited with her children. And all this time she was on my “3 times a day prayer list.” Hearing from Cathy made every prayer well worth it. Even when I didn’t see immediate results. I could go on and on as to the way my own prayer life has been made deeper by delay. Simply put, when it comes to delayed answers – keep praying – you won’t be disappointed you did!
And now for those times when the answer to our prayer appears to be, “No.” James Merrick in Hymn penned: “Not what we wish, but what we want, Oh! Let Thy grace supply, The good unasked, in mercy grant; The ill, though asked, deny.”
From my earthly standpoint, what I ask for seems so sensible, so right, and so necessary. But my vision only takes into account the world that revolves around me. Thankfully, you and I have a heavenly Father who as the song says, “Has the whole world in His hands.”
My Father in heaven looks at my life with the eternal perspective He has for me. I think of it this way, my Father, who created me, longs to spend “forever” with Dorothy. And so, since He tells us that His longing is that ALL who cleave to Him may not perish but have eternal life and live forever with Him, then with this as His motivation, with this longing at the core of His being, my Father is going to do for me what will bring this great joy and ultimate happiness into my life.
What may appear as a terrible let down and complete denial of my requests, may in the end be the foundation of my eternal rejoicing. As Hannah Mare so beautifully wrote, “O sad estate of human wretchedness; so weak is man, so ignorant and blind, that did not God sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask, we should be ruined at our own request.”
“They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright!”
“God answers prayers;
sometimes, when hearts are weak,
He gives the very gifts believers seek.
But often faith must
learn a deeper rest,
and trust God’s silence,
when He does not speak;
For He whose name is Love
will send the best:
Stars may burn out nor
mountain walls endure
but God is true;
His promises are sure
to those who seek.”
M. G. Plantz
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.