You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. – John 16:24 (NLT)
I have come to learn and be reminded so many times in my life of how this verse can be a stumbling block for the faith of so many.
The problem is not with the promise Jesus made. The problem is with our expectation with God’s timing in answering out prayers.
We don’t realize the the comma in that verse isn’t just there for the sake of grammar. It’s also there to remind us that many times, there is a waiting period between the asking and the receiving.
There are three key reasons for this waiting period that I’ve come to understand.
- To test our faith and resolve. As the parable of the Unjust Judge teaches us (Luke 18:1-8) that we have to be persistent in our prayers. Just as the Poor widow kept after unjust judge and didn’t let him alone until she got justice, so we must be persistent in our prayers. And never give up. God will test us see how much we really want what we’re asking Him for.
- We are asking for our own selfish purposes to spend it on our own pleasures rather than to further God’s Kingdom (James 4:3). You do not need and brand new Cadillac or a million dollars in your bank account! While there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, if you only want them to make your life easier and to show off, then your motives are wrong. This “name it and claim it” gospel going around is just not true. Asking for justice is once thing, greed is another!
- To mature us to be able to handle what it is we are asking Him for. We see this in the story of Jacob’s son Joseph. (Genesis Chapters 37, 39- 41). In the account of Joseph’s life, we read about all the things Joseph had to go through in order for the visions God gave him at the age of 17 until he was made ruler of all of Egypt approx 33 years later. Everything we went trough was preparing him for the position God was going to be putting him into. If God would have made him of all of Egypt at the age of 17, it would have bee a disaster! He wouldn’t have had the maturity, wisdom or life experience to handle the job. Not to mention the understanding of God’s purposes in his life not the great capacity to forgive. Let me put is another way, you wouldn’t give the keys to your brand new car or control of your bank account in the hands of your six year old child would you? Of course not! So why would God give you something before you’re ready to handle it? Instead, He’s going to bring to through a few things first and cause you to grow and mature in the time you’re waiting for Him to answer your prayer.
- Big things take time. Remember, we’re doing the easy part in the asking. God is doing the hard part. Lets again use Joseph and an example. First God had to form Joseph in his mother’s womb, put him in the right family, cause Jacob to pick him as his favorite son so that the others would get jealous of him. Then He had to make sure that Joseph was in the right place to be put into a pit. The God had to make sure the Ishmaelite traders were in the right place for Joseph to be sold to them as a slave. Then God had to make sure that a man named
Potiphar would be the one to buy Joseph. Next, God had to make sure that Joseph would be falsely accused and put in prison by letting Potiphar’s wife lust for him. Then God had to make sure that two of Pharaoh’s servants would be imprisoned so Joseph could interpret their dreams. Add to that God had to give Joseph the interpretation of the two dreams. Then God had to give Pharaoh two really bad nightmares so that he would become so stressed and concerned that he’d demand his nightmares to be interpreted. Then God had to cause the cup barer to remember Joseph and tell Pharaoh about Joseph. Then finally, God had to give Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh’s nightmares so Joseph could give the interpretation. So the Pharaoh would be so impressed that he would put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. So we cam see that God had to set a lot of things in motion to make the dreams He gave Joseph to come to pass.
- God doesn’t answer your prayer that way you expected or wanted Him to. Sometimes, God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we think He should. Lets use Jesus as an example. The ancient Israelites were expecting the Messiah to come as a mighty warrior to conquer the mighty Roman Empire and establish the Israelite Empire. To make Israel the ruler of all the Earth. But that wasn’t God’s plan. God answered their prayers by sending His Son to a lowly carpenter’s family in the form of and lowly teacher and servant. And dying on a cross. Then raising from the dead on the third day. You see, God knew that they were being short sighted in their prayers and He had a bigger purpose in mind. So when God doesn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted Him to, He just has something bigger and better in mind.
So you can see that even though God may no appear to be answering your prayer, He is working on it. He’s got ten million things to set into motion to bring the answer to your prayer or the thing you asked Him to do to come to pass.
And while He is doing that, He’s using the things you go through in life to mature you and grow you into all that He has for you.
So just be patient and know that God has things under control. He will bring all the dreams, visions, and prophecies spoken to you to pass. He will also see that all that you’ve asked Him for (that aren’t selfish) and will answer all of your prayers.
We just have to trust in God’s wisdom and timing. Just hang in there and have faith and never give up!