So often in my life I get frustrated when I pray to God over and over for something, only to see nothing happen. I figure either He doesn’t want to answer my prayer, or I’ve done something wrong, preventing a blessing. There’s nothing worse than praying to a Father who seemingly can’t or won’t hear from you. It is at these times when I feel most like giving up on God.
But I think God is madly in love with blessing His children, that He longs to give us good things, one good thing, many good things after another, heaping blessings upon us. I believe that is what heaven is like—an overwhelming flood of blessings, of glory and love, given to us fully, satisfyingly, unimaginably pleasurable. In our broken world, however, things don’t always seem to go as planned.
And that’s just it—we live in a broken world. The machine and all its components are damaged. None of the parts work. Not in Creation. Not in us. The bicycle we long to ride has been fragmented into a thousand pieces and scattered across the heavens. Then what is my attitude about prayer? Should I hope for an answer at all, even when my prayers themselves are broken?
Yes. I believe God answers every one of our prayers. Not in our own understanding, but in His. And in a way that is always better than how we imagined. But sometimes He has to fix things beyond our understanding before He can answer them. If you and I pray for a ride on that bicycle, God first has to bring all the pieces together (something only He can do), then fix the chain and the handle bars and the flat tires and so on—things beyond our skill, things out of our control. Only then can He give it to us. Not only that, but He also has to clear all the hazards on the road far out ahead of us, far beyond our scope of thought, so that when we do ride, we’ll be safe to ride together with Him.
The Book of Daniel speaks about this. One day Daniel was standing on the bank of the Tigris when he looked up and saw a man “dressed in linen, with a belt of the finest gold around his waist” (10:5). The angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (10:12-14)
According to this passage, God heard Daniel’s prayer from the first moment it was offered. But due to spiritual warfare, his answer was delayed. Daniel had to wait in God’s timing, not in his own, as events far beyond his control played out in the heavens. But when the angel finally appeared before Daniel, he was ready to listen.
God, of course, knew the prayer would be delayed. And He knew that Daniel would receive the answer to his prayers at exactly the right moment—not only for Daniel’s benefit, but for God’s glory. God is holy. That means every prayer, when answered, will ultimately glorify Him. He alone is our Father. He alone is good.
Even though it seems so many of our prayers are delayed, know that in every way, God fixed everything on the cross, when he broke His Son Jesus Christ for us. Jesus knows how to fix anything and everything, for there’s nothing in Him that was not broken, for our sake.
So then let’s trust Him. Let’s believe in His promises, not in our own. Let’s rest in Him, and wait. A prayer might be delayed on purpose, so that we are finally strong enough to enjoy it when it comes to fruition. We just might find that the answer to our prayers will come at the most opportune moment—at a time better than we imagined, when all the old broken bicycles are made new together. Can you imagine? All of us riding into heaven together? What a glorious, joyful day!