Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).
Waiting has never been easy.
And it could be more frustrating if it has to do with something you are asking from God. You just can’t understand why it seems your prayers are falling on deaf ears. After all, His word eloquently assures us that we’d receive if we ask.
But, scripture does give some instances of delay in receiving answers to prayers. And it also provides insight on the factors often responsible for such.
Knowing why the answer to your prayer isn’t forthcoming could help you deal with the situation better and help establish your trust in the Lord.
Here are 4 points to think about if you realize the answer to your request isn’t arriving early.
#1. A Mighty Interference from the Devil
The story of Daniel and how the answer to his prayer was delayed for 3 weeks is well-known.
Angel Gabriel made it clear to him that he had been sent with response to his supplication, since the very first day he uttered them (Daniel 10:12). But he was held back by the territorial demonic powers overseeing the Persian realm until Arch angel Michael came to the rescue (Daniel 10:13).
It shows how possible it is for the Devil to go an extra mile to attempt to prevent a believer’s answer from reaching him/her.
But in the end, he can only delay but not deny the delivery of God’s answer package to the child of God.
#2. You Haven’t Persisted Enough
Notice however, that after Daniel prayed the first day without a response, he didn’t quit.
It was unknown to him that God had issued out his response. So he kept banging on Heaven’s gate until God probably asked, “I thought we sent his response already?” And in reply, a Cherubim probably said, “Those guys in Persia are confronting Gabriel”. “What! Send back up immediately! God probably ordered. And Michael appeared.
Who knows what would have happened, had Daniel not persisted for 20 more days?
Elijah was another dogged fellow.
As soon as the 3 years of drought was complete. God told him he was ready to unleash rain again. But that wasn’t going to happen without any effort. Elijah would still be required to enforce it in prayer even though God had spoken.
Maintaining a difficult prayer position, he prayed 7 times asking his servant, at intervals, to check for the sign of rain.
“The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ’Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’” (1 Kings 18:44 NIV).
These men simply demonstrated beforehand, a principle Jesus would later buttress with the parable of the importunate widow. At the end, He said,” And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” (Luke 18:7 NIV).
#3. God is Preparing a Greater Miracle to Glorify Himself
When Lazarus was sick, his sisters, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus so He could come and heal him immediately.
On receipt of the message, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). And then he tarried some more days, only setting out after Lazarus had died. Before he arrived, Lazarus had been buried.
All hope was lost.
Little did anyone know that Jesus had other plans. He raised the dead Lazarus back to life. And just as He declared earlier, the Father and the Son were greatly glorified through it.
Scripture says, “On account of him (Lazarus) many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus” (John 12:11).
The reaction and praise it attracted couldn’t have been any less. Would you compare the news of a resurrected Lazarus who had been dead for 4 days with that of a Lazarus who was healed after a few days illness?
The former is certainly more compelling than the latter.
And God chooses to do that at times.
I know the amazing story of a couple who waited for 23 years only to be blessed with a set of triplets!
#4. It is Not Yet the Appointed Time
At 75, when Abraham received God’s call and stepped out in unimaginable faith, his wife was already declared barren (Genesis 11:30).
Yet, God promised him a child. He believed and would remind God in prayer once and again. But it took a whopping 25 years for that promise to be fulfilled.
It took that long for Abraham’s prayers to be answered simply because there was an appointed time for it to manifest. And God would not be pressured to bringing it earlier.
God told him, “I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:10). So Abraham can be sure it was no joke, He reiterated it, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:14).
Truly, “Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:2).
Centuries after, a certain Simeon also had a similar experience.
He wasn’t waiting for a child but for the consolation of Israel – the coming of Christ (Luke 2:25-26).
He had to wait for long because God had a set time for the saviour to come into the world. Scripture says, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).
So, if you’re experiencing delay in getting answer to your prayer, don’t throw in the towel. Delay is not denial.
Perhaps, the appointed time is not yet.
And even wthere is an appointed time for a thing, God still expects and honours faith and persistence.
So, keep your faith alive, intensify and persist on your knees.
The dawn breaks soon.
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.