according to all that he promised.
There has not failed one word of all his good promise,
which he promised by Moses his servant.
Romans 8:15 (WEB)
God answers prayer in one of three ways: “yes,” “no,” or “yes, but not yet.” This last reply seems to be the most dreaded— sometimes even more than an outright “no.” However, patience is an important trait for the Christian, as Scripture stresses repeatedly in stories, psalms, and epistles.
Waiting on the Lord to unlock a door is always wiser than attempting to pry it open ourselves, even when the delay has been long. After God promised him descendants (Gen. 12:2), Abraham lived for 25 years with an answer of “not yet.” After that quarter-century, the answer finally became “yes.” But meanwhile, Abraham and Sarah came up with their own plan to get an heir—Sarah’s servant Hagar bore Ishmael. The couple may have convinced themselves they were “helping” God live up to His prophecy, but really they were disobeying. The consequences were disastrous. Bitterness and blame affected every member of the family (Gen. 16:4-6; Gen. 21:9-10). What’s more, Ishmael’s people lived in enmity with their neighbors, and that hostility persists in the Middle East today (Gen. 21:9-14; Gen. 25:18).
Our patience gives God time to prepare the opportunity on the other side of a closed door. Even if we could force our way by manipulating circumstances, we would not be happy with what we find there. No one in Abraham’s camp was satisfied with the situation they created! We can have contentment and joy only when we access the Lord’s will at the very moment He ordained. The blessings we find on the other side of an open door are always worth the wait.
Exodus 14:14 (WEB)
I believe there is something in the heart of God that fights on our behalf when we do not try and fight for ourselves. Waiting on the Lord is not passive, but it is the most active thing we can do. When we wait on God to fight for us, we are putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position and by doing so, we are demonstrating in a very practical way that we know that our heavenly Dad is the source of our help.
Does this mean that we never wage warfare on a spiritual level? After all, the Bible says that we are to ‘resist the devil and he will flee’, ‘take on the full armor of God’, etc. I believe what Exodus 14:14 is talking about is fighting in our own strength. There is a huge difference from fighting our battles in our own best efforts and fighting battles in the power of the Lord’s might.
When we learn that the battle really is the Lord’s, we can rest in His ability to save us and draw from His strength and not our own. Whatever battle you are facing today, be comforted in knowing that you have a Father (God) and a Big Brother (Jesus) fighting on your behalf. You only need to be at peace and watch what happens.
The Power of Prayer
Philippians 4:6 says that it’s good to bring requests to the Lord, and we do often ask Him for certain blessings, desired outcomes, and healing for loved ones. But there are times when, in God’s omniscience, He determines that a “no” would ultimately result in greater good.
So, what supplications can you be sure are in accordance with His will? Paul recorded specific petitions he made on behalf of the Colossians, and you can offer these life-changing prayers for people in your own life as well.
First, request that they “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). In this way, you are asking God to give them direction and the ability to see life from His viewpoint.
Second, ask that they “will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (v. 10). The only way to succeed in this is through the control of the Holy Spirit—He fills hearts with a longing for God and creates the desire to please Him through obedience.
Third, pray that their life would count (v. 10). There is a difference between being busy and being fruitful. Many Christians assume that to have an impact for God, they must volunteer in numerous ministries at church or become a missionary or pastor. But the truth is, effectiveness in God’s work depends on what He calls each person to do.
Too often, Christians pray for others only during hardships. But Paul continuously lifted up the Colossians to our Father (v. 9). As you mention others by name to the Lord, consider the areas that the apostle addressed.
Why Isn’t God Speaking?
The Bible speaks of times when God chose to be silent—to an individual or to humanity as a whole. David cried out to Him but discerned no answer (Psalm 22:2). Then there was Job, who must have felt the Lord had abandoned him. And during the gap between the Old and New Testaments, God had no prophet for 400 years.
We don’t always hear from the Lord when we expect to. Sometimes we’re so caught up in the world and our own interests that we simply can’t detect His voice over all the noise. There are also other reasons for His silence—He may be choosing to remain quiet because …
He wants our attention. We can’t expect God to answer simply because we’ve summoned Him. Perhaps He is reminding us that He is in charge.
There is unconfessed sin in our life. When we’re willing to deal with our sin, God is ready to talk to us. To continue living in sin, however, communicates that we’re not interested in His will for us.
We’re not ready. If we’re doing our own thing and are unwilling to walk in obedience, God might be waiting for us to make up our mind to follow Him.
He’s teaching us to trust Him. If we’re motivated to love God only when there’s indication that He’s listening, our relationship with Him is based on feeling rather than faith.
He’s teaching us to distinguish His voice from others. When God speaks softly, we listen more closely and eventually recognize His voice better.
Whatever the situation, we can be certain of one thing: God’s quietness is always for our good.