Often, God answers prayer straight away, or within hours or days. But do you ever feel as though you have been praying for something for a very long time, even years, and although you know ‘in your heart of hearts’ that God answers prayer, do you wonder is He ever going to answer THIS one?
Last night, I woke up, just briefly – but in those moments before I fell asleep again, the words “I have heard your prayer”, softly filtered through the fogginess of half sleep and settled into my heart, comforting me like a warm blanket.
This morning when I woke up, those words were the first thing I thought of. So I looked them up in the Bible. There are several places where people were told “your prayer has been heard”.
I found encouragement in these two testimonies:
Zechariah and Elizabeth. Luke 1:6-7
“Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.”
They’d longed and prayed for a child. Now, here we find them “advanced in years” with their prayers seemingly still unanswered. I wonder did they feel, as Elizabeth approached and then passed, the age of childbearing “God is just not going to answer this one”. That would be the natural response wouldn’t it?
But then one day, unexpectedly, when Zechariah is carrying out his priestly duties, this happens:
“But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.” Luke 1:13
Wow! Does this mean Zechariah had been praying continually all this time? Even though he and his Elizabeth were both past the age of childbearing? Had he not given up on his dream after all? Somehow I don’t think so. I think at some point they must have looked at each other’s wrinkled faces and bodies and said “darling it’s just not going to happen.”
I believe the angel was talking about the prayers that Zechariah and Elizabeth had prayed long before.
Why did God wait so long to answer their prayer? I believe He waited until the situation was so impossible in the natural that Zechariah and Elizabeth, as well as anyone else looking on, for all time, would know that only God could have done this! In her childbearing years Elizabeth had not been able to conceive and now she was considered (in the natural) too old to become pregnant. So for this to happen could only be a miracle!
Our prayers don’t ‘go away’ God hears them, and he treasures each one. He WILL answer, according to his perfect plan. We just need to know and trust that He hears and keeps a record of our prayers.
Psalms 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”
Daniel 10:12 “Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.”
Every time we pray, something happens in the spiritual realm.
And sometimes, when we pray, a spiritual battle takes place.
We might feel, based on the physical, natural realm, that our prayer is not being answered – perhaps you’ve been praying for the salvation of a loved one for a long time? Does God want your loved one saved? Of course He does – but there’s someone else who most definitely does not! Sometimes the reason the answer to your heartfelt prayer seems not to be being answered is because of spiritual warfare, behind the scenes.
Daniel had been praying for weeks with ‘no answer’ from the Lord. I wonder was he starting to think God hadn’t heard him? In the meanwhile, God had very definitely heard Daniel and had taken action – He had dispatched a specific answer to Daniel’s prayers. Little did Daniel know that behind the scenes, there was a such a battle raging in the spiritual realm for those twenty one long days!
Sometimes battles rage in the spiritual ream due to our prayers. This is one of the many reasons we need to “pray without ceasing”, (1 Thess 5:17 ) even if it seems to be days, weeks, months or sometimes years before we receive our answer.
God hears every single prayer, even the unspoken, silent “prayers of the heart”. He hears every sigh and sees every tear. He remembers a single prayer from ten, twenty, fifty years ago.
And He answers. In His time, not ours.
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