I suppose every believer in God has prayed the words, "not my will, but Yours". You may think you've never prayed those words, but it's right there in the Lord's Prayer, and not too many people have never recited the words "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Now the degree to which we really, sincerely meant those words is probably best judged by how we react when God actually does do His will and not ours. What we say we want and what we really want aren't always the same thing, and by we I mean me, too.
Let's face it, we even pray prayers that contradict each other. One minute we're asking God to root out our pride, to help us to be humble. Then when something happens that humbles us we pray for God to remove the circumstance, deal with the person who wounded our pride, bind the devil, cry, whine and stomp our feet, (at least I've felt like doing that at times). Have you ever asked God to help you to trust Him more? When situations arise where you have to trust Him, are you thinking, where are you God and why are you allowing this trial in my life? Yes? Me, too.
The way I see it, the God who sifts and searches out the path before us, also has to do a lot of sifting when it comes to our prayers. Prayers prayed totally contrary to His will, His purpose, His plan and His timing get sifted out. We really need to be thankful for the many prayers God didn't answer, or maybe more correctly, said no to.
Then there are prayers we pray that involve another person's will. Aren't there just times when you wish God hadn't given us humans a free will? When someone chooses to harden their heart against God, chooses to engage in self destructive behaviors, chooses to hurt others, it's hard to watch while prayers for them seemingly go unanswered. The good news is that God is a relentless lover who continues pursuing and calling and knocking at the door of even the most willful person's heart, until, with their will, they choose to open the door to Him and His great love and grace.
Sometimes unanswered prayers feel like a no, but they're actually a wait. When a prayer prayed in agreement with God's will, purpose and plan is prayed, then sooner or later that prayer will intersect with God's divine timing and it will come to pass. My oldest daughter and her husband struggled with infertility for 10 years. They had three miscarriages. It seemed like their prayers for children would never come to pass. Then God said, "NOW!" and daughter number one was born, and just shy of three years later, daughter number two. In the meanwhile, God didn't waste their waiting or their wounds, but used it to strengthen and deepen their walk with Him. In their ministry, they can relate to the sufferings of others in a way that wouldn't have been possible if they hadn't suffered through their own season of waiting and loss.
Then there's a prayer that looks like a no, but it's really a yes in disquise. My second born daughter wrote about such a prayer in this blog post here. For forever and a day she prayed for God to let her live in Africa, to be a full time missionary there. While God opened doors for her and her husband to go to Africa numerous times, to be instrumental in helping to accomplish some wonderful things in conjunction with Ghanaian pastors, the door remained frustratingly shut to stay there. But in His great wisdom, God searched out and answered a prayer prayed in secret, a heart's desire prayer that no one knew about. It appeared to everyone that their family was complete with a girl and a boy via adoption. It appeared to them that their family was complete. But where there was a no or a not yet in one area, God whispered a yes in another, and after thirteen years of marriage she conceived for the very first time and will have a baby boy this June. The name they've chosen for him means, "God Comforts."
Be encouraged, friend, God is listening to your cries, the spoken ones and the ones so dear to your heart you've never even uttered them aloud. In His perfect timing, His divine yes will meet the prayers you've prayed according to His will. He's pursuing the prodigal you're praying for. And remember when you prayed "not my will, but Yours", sometimes His yes to that prayer, looks like a no to yours. If it does, He has the best of reasons, the purest of intentions, your highest good in mind.
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