Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
But why does there seem to always be so much WAITING when it comes to prayers being ANSWERED?
Waiting can be soooooooo frustrating.
Permit me a bit of time to share what keeps the angst at bay in my mind, emotions, and spirit in such a time as this when the hounds of chaos and destruction howl so loudly at the door of what seems, as never before, the foundation of our very civilization.
In a nutshell, what calms my personal fits is that God has not moved.
He remains Who, what, when, where, and how He always was, is, and is to come.
When I remember this, I am able to crawl out of the “base of the brain”–where emotion can overpower reason on a dime, especially if fed with impatience–and make my way, again, upward to the “God place” of the brain. Not the so-called “God Spot” scientists think they have found–but a spiritual place where the Holy Spirt calms, clarifies, and encourages.
A place accessible to all who are born again and filled with His Spirit, which is to say, all those who so choose.
On Two Times
Consider, if you will, a place outside of time, a place where words such as “before,” “during,” and “after,” are meaningless; a place where there are no clocks slicing existence into fractional, consecutive units but where everything takes place concurrently.
This would be eternity.
Of course, eternity is hard for us to imagine because the idea of time is integral to our very existence.
We live in the land of “was,” “is,” and “will be”; of memories and hopes for the future.
We watch our bodies age, the sun rise and set, civilizations come and go.
We do not know or experience time’s opposite; we can only theorize about eternity or take it on faith.
But we can also know there is such a thing as eternity because the Bible cites, “In the beginning…” implying that creation was set in motion, in time, at one point.
If it started, by definition, it continues.
And whatever or Whomever started time had to be from some place outside of time.
The first element of creation was, then, time.
I picture time and eternity this way: There is God, abiding in a motionless place somewhere in a perfectly still space surrounding the spinning globe, represented by the GIF to the left. He “lives” outside the world which He set in motion.
God, well, just WAS at the birth of His creation (and still IS).
As God instructed Moses to tell the people Who he was talking to up there on the mountain, “Tell them,” God said, “I Am [hayah—exist, be in existence] hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14, emphasis mine), and “I Am” is God’s name still.
But what has this to do with waiting on what sure seems like unanswered prayers?
It illustrates eternity…where God lives, that is to say, where He IS, and it encourages us that even though we might have to wait for prayer answers, spinning as we are in “people time,” all is accomplished at the same time, in God’s time.
There is evidence of this concept in the Bible, too.
For example, referencing Matthew 6:8, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” In other words, God already knows what prayers we will pray–and how He will answer them.
To use my best eternity-speak, all is DONE.
Consider also this: God “(declared) the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:10).
Therefore, He knew, knows, and will know our needs and our prayers, and He knows their “ends,” that is to say, their answers.
You might say that from God’s eternal perch in, of, and surrounding all time and space, He sees the panoply of events, end to beginning, beginning to end–at once.
(Blows the temporal mind, doesn’t it?)
Thus, where there is no waiting, prayers are at once expressed and answered.
At least this is the best we, the People of the Clock, can theorize, imagine.
Back on terra firma, however, where things aren’t just theoretical but have flesh and blood and material being, the baby is still sick, the bills unpaid, or we haven’t met the love of our life yet or received that promotion at work.
So God’s “eternal now” might be our “tomorrow,” or “next week” or “ten years from now.”
But if you think about it, this is yet another example of God’s love.
I think God created time and our place in it out of His great love for us, to give us time within which to chose or reject His invitation to salvation, whenever it might happen in each of our lives, because of another of His great gifts: free will*.
It’s going to take some of us longer, due to so many factors both external and internal, to come to that intersection where the call of His will that “all be saved” reaches each of us when, where, and how that intersection appears on our horizon.
But as put in 2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
(And oh what manner of love is this! Selah…I feel like saying…from a rooftop somewhere…just now…)
On the Fullness of Time
Of course some prayers are answered what even we would call immediately, such as is the case when God performs miracles.
But other prayers come in their appointed time, the “fulness of time,” the most extraordinary one of all being the emergence of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, on earth at precisely the time He was prophesied to emerge. The same Son noted here:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
For another example in prophecy, consider a time some think is coming very soon when the Gentile “age,” or “Church Age” will be completed as implied in Romans 11:25:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
(Fulness as in pléróma: “fullness…full number.”)
Many prophecy scholars suggest that this is the “time” when the Gentile believers’ era is complete, the “last one comes aboard,” as it were, and God turns His focus back on Israel to complete and fulfill His promises to them. See here for expanded commentary on this topic.
But On Those Prayer Delays
One reason for a delay is some kind of spiritual opposition. As cited in Daniel, chapter 10:
Then he [some scholars surmise “he” is the pre-incarnate Christ] continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” (12-14)
Another reason for delay is “age of reason,” that is, until our brains have acquired the maturity to be able to reason things out (thought to be about age 7) such as that there could be a God.
Another reason is that God often answers prayers via a process, as in a healing process that takes time.
And, of course, we may not be able to know all the answers to our prayers until we pass on through the time-encircled existence we live in now and enter eternity, as some prayers will not be answered in our life time such as those for the salvation of our children and our children’s children.
But above all, God answers prayers in due season, according to His sovereignty and according to His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence: His all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful nature.
Even if we don’t recognize His answers as what we think they ought to be, and when they ought to be, yet we know this:
…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
I take this as big encouragement that whatever mess we’ve got ourselves into down here, just now, or whatever good thing we are waiting for, He knows.
He has always known.
And, well–what the psalmist said in #37, verses 3-6, cited at the beginning of this post.
Bask in those verses, beloved.
I will, too.
Especially in such a time as this when we need all the calmness, clarity, and encouragement God planned for us from “before the foundation of the world,” that is to say, when God set the hands of time in motion for us.
*For more commentaries on free will, see here.
Image of blank clock from Wikimedia commons.
GIF of spinning globe source.
Image of manger scene from Wikimedia Commons