Chances are that you have heard someone say, “God doesn’t hear my prayers. My prayers never get answered. I’ve prayed as hard as I know how to pray, but nothing ever happens.”
What people usually mean by that is that they have prayed very hard for a sick loved one to be healed, and they died. Or they prayed very hard for a relationship to work, and it didn’t. Or they prayed very hard to get a certain job, and they didn’t get it.
What they often have a hard time seeing is that their attitude is similar to a diabetic saying, “Proper diet doesn’t work for me. I tried hard eating healthy for a long time.”
Or for an out of shape person to say, “Exercise doesn’t work for me. I tried exercising as hard as I could for days.”
Or for a would-be gardener to say, “Gardening doesn’t work for me. I tried it. I plowed and planted and watered and hoed for days. I got nothing.”
Or for an unemployed person to say, “Job hunting doesn’t work for me. I tried everything I know how to try and gave it all I had for weeks.”
Or for a flunked-out college student to say, “Studying doesn’t work for me. I studied as hard as I could for the first part of the semester.”
Most of the most important pursuits of life do not produce immediate results!
If I make bad choices in the way I eat today, I probably won’t get sick tomorrow.
If I make bad choices in the way I exercise, I probably won’t suddenly feel weak in a just few days.
Spiritual growth follows a similar pattern.
I may choose not to pray today, and most likely neither I nor others will notice it tomorrow.
I may choose not to study my Bible, or to listen to good Bible teaching. No one may seem to notice–at first.
The Power is in the Perseverance
You probably can’t remember what the pastor preached or your Sunday School teacher taught last Sunday. You probably can’t remember what you read in your quiet time yesterday.
–You may not remember what you studied last week but think long term!–
But you also probably can’t remember what you ate for supper last week either.
In both cases, you know that you are eating (physically or spiritually) to stay healthy and to grow strong.
Consider an example of two guys. They appear to be very similar in most ways. One makes a deliberate decision to be disciplined in the way he eats and exercises. The other does not. He is sedentary and eats a lot of junk food.
Check them both out after a few days. Can you tell a difference? Probably not.
But check them both out after a few decades. The consequences eventually and inevitably will begin to show up.
How is it that some people seem to know how to make the right choices for long-range results in the physical realm, but seem to think that it’s not supposed to work that way in the spiritual realm?
God has privileged His children to work with Him in carrying out His will on earth by praying. He teaches us how to pray. He brings our attention to things we are to pray for. And as we pray, He works. Slowly, but inexorably, He moves in response to the prayers He has stirred us to pray. We may not see anything happen today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or next year.
–If Jesus did not quit praying, should I?–
But, as we perseveringly pray through our lifespan, the time certainly will come when we will look back over the decades and exclaim with awe, “Father! What You’ve done is amazing! Incredible! I never would have suspected how You would put all this together! You are an awesome Engineer!”
And He will answer, “Yes! And I worked through you as you prayed! Aren’t you glad you didn’t quit!”
Stay in the Battle!