Everyone has a story to tell. When we make the connection between our story and God's great story, we come away with HIStory, which involves each and every one of us.
As I prayed and thought about which topic to write about this week, I felt the need to take a step back and discuss if prayer even works. Some of you might be struggling with this one right now if you are experiencing a period of silence from God. Maybe you have been praying for years and still haven't heard or seen an answer. Well I can tell you with certainty, that most of our readers understand. I know I do! But it is because of how I have experienced God in my life that I can also say He doesn't work on our timetable or in our way. As my little girls reminded me this past Sunday, we have to learn to do things God's way, not our way. So this means praying with hope and conviction that He is going to answer in His way and on His timing. But please don't let this discourage you, on the contrary, let it simmer and may you see that His timing and His ways are perfect. In our finite perspective, we can't see the reasons behind His doings. But we can be confident that in His infinite perspective, He knows what is best for us. We just have to trust Him.
It feels so good, though, when He answers our prayers right away, doesn't it? Everything in life seems to come together when you pray and within minutes or days your prayer is answered. We get so excited and praise Him when this happens. But if I can be honest, in the past I have found that when He answers my prayers right away, I tend to get excited, praise Him and then just as quickly forget. I move on with my life, and then I'm on to the next request without remembering His goodness and His faithfulness in answering all of my past requests.
So I have been thinking about this. Is it possible that in God's perfect being, sometimes He doesn't answer right away for two reasons:
- It's not time yet. He is all-knowing and will answer when His timing is right.
- So that we won't forget!
All too often we move on and forget His goodness. Boy am I guilty of this. When I was 15 years old I went on a mission trip with my high school and I spent a summer in Guatemala. I was on fire for God and wanted to serve Him so fervently. On this trip, I became ill and had to have a blood transfusion while spending a week in a local clinic. Scary? Yes!!! But in His infinite love He saved me! I was surrounded with family - my sister and aunt that were in Guatemala at the time. So I was not alone. One uncle in particular traveled the city by bus visiting different blood banks to find my blood type. This is love at its best. God never left me alone. The doctor said that if I had waited one more night at home, I would have died. My hemoglobin count dropped to below 4 (should be 12-15). I came back to California from that trip so in awe of His goodness. But how quickly I forgot.
Then again when I was 17 years old, my last year in high school, I became ill. I had to have another blood transfusion. Thankfully my mom and dad were near. My sisters, friends and family all prayed for me and He saved me yet, again!!! But how quickly I forgot.
This past year I became ill again. Only this time healing did not come so quickly. It felt like He wasn't answering my prayers. I had an army of warriors praying for me: family, friends, churches. Why was it taking so long this time? My dear friends, I am convinced that it happened this way so that I wouldn't forget His goodness. God has no intention of hurting us, it is not in Him to cause us any harm, He is love. But we live in an imperfect, sinful world where sickness exists. Had God answered my prayer within a week or two, I guarantee you I would have forgotten and would have gone back to my old ways. Just like I forgot the two previous times He healed me, I would have forgotten this one as well.
With the first two answers to prayer, I didn't change my ways. I was not motivated to start a blog about prayer or bring my family and friends together in prayer. I barely even opened my Bible. God wanted to use me then but I was consumed with my day to day life. And that's the key word "my." But this time God used it for His ultimate glory and He spoke to me in ways I had never heard Him. I don't believe everyone needs to go through a sickness like this for God to speak to them. This is my journey and the way God was going to get my attention. I wish I could say "I'm just not that stubborn" or "I totally get it." But I didn't, until now. I am still a work in progress. In no way do I feel like I have arrived nor will I ever. Like Paul, let us state with confidence...
"…my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace." - Hebrews 20:24b
And let's remember His promise:
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28
I love the way the Women of Faith Study Bible puts it...
"Let's be crystal clear here. God works everything in believers' lives for their 'good.' This doesn't mean that everything works for pleasant lifestyles, enjoyable futures and happiness. The 'good' here, though it isn't defined or specified, is to be understood as a spiritual and eternal 'good.' God uses everything in believers' lives - and often the difficult things in their lives - to remake them, to transform them into the likeness of His Son. Everything that happens to us - the easy, the difficult, the grief, the pain, the joy - has one purpose: to make us more like Jesus."
-Women of Faith Study Bible
If you can remember 3 things from this study...
1 - God does not punish. But He uses these difficulties in life which the enemy uses for evil and He turns them into good for His glory.
2 - It is always about Him. It is not about you and me.
3 - Does prayer work? YES PRAYER WORKS! So let us rejoice in waiting on Him and expect an amazing answer that will only draw us closer to His throne.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
- Hebrews 12:7-11
Damaris U. Avila lives with her loving husband and their two inquisitive and sweet girls. Through personal storytelling, she invites women to share and see themselves in God's story. She leads young girls through BeYOUtiful Girl Time, a sisterhood where girls are encouraged to become the women God designed them to be.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."