Thursday, October 30, 2008

How Long Lord?

Have you ever asked that question? How long Lord? Probably all who have ever prayed have. But asking that question can come from a lack of understanding of prayer and how prayer works because prayer is a process.

Jesus said this; that everything in the kingdom of God starts from a seed, (and that includes answers to our prayers).
These are the Lord’s words…
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mk. 4:26-29 NIV)

So, as Jesus said, everything in the kingdom of God is a process. It is a process of Seed, Time, and Harvest. A seed is planted, time must pass during the process of growth, and harvest comes when the fruit is ripe. And so it is with prayer. It is a process. It starts from a seed, and will take time to come to pass.

Skipping ahead a little in the prayer process, the important thing to note is that during the time period that it is growing, it is what we do (or don’t do) that will determine how long our prayer takes to be answered or even if it will be answered at all. That is because answers to prayer are no different than the growing of a plant from seed. When a seed is planted in the ground, it must be watered and protected and given the proper amount of light if it is expected to come to fruition. And it is the same with spiritual seed and our prayer. If we want our spiritual seed to come to pass and to come to pass in the shortest amount of time, we need to learn how to nurture it properly. In this article I will lay some of that important ground work for you.

Let's first look at the difference between natural seed and spiritual seed (and where the difficulty in nurturing spiritual seed comes in). The difference is that we cannot always see spiritual seed growing while with natural seed we can. And that is why the bible decrees that we must live by faith and not by sight. (2Cor. 5:7) When it comes to prayer answers, we must continue to believe that they are growing and will come to pass. If we doubt that our prayer is in the process of being answered, it will not be answered. Remember, Jesus said that we must believe and doubt not when we pray. (Mk. 11:22-24) I know that doesn’t make it any easier, but that is the way it is. And that is why Paul calls this a “fight” of faith. It is a fight of faith because when we cannot see the answers to our prayers growing, there is always room for doubts to plague us. However, we do not have to accept the doubts. We can continue to “fight the good fight of faith” and believe that the answer to our prayer is on the way.

One of the best illustrations of this process and what gospel faith is like can be seen in the promise that God made to Abraham and Sarah (who were called Abram and Sarai at the time of the promise). God promised to birth a great nation out of Abraham, and out of his wife Sarah. But the thing was; at the time of the promise, Abraham was 75 years old and Sarah was 65. Both were beyond child bearing years and had gone childless in their marriage. Yet, Abraham believed God's promise that he would be the father of a great nation. Now a major issue for Abraham, (besides this promise being naturally impossible) was the length of time that it took for the promise to come to pass. Abraham had to stand in faith for 25 years before a son was miraculously born to him! Now, that’s a long time to believe such a seemingly impossible promise but that is what Abraham did. We can read what scripture says about Abraham… “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him…, Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” (Rom. 4:18-21 NIV) And Abraham did this for 25 years before he saw any results! Wow! What faith! And, what patience! And so, it was done unto Abraham according to his faith. And it will be done unto us the same way, if we believe God’s promises and doubt not.

You might be thinking here that I am saying that is will take 25 years for your prayer to be answered. Well, it may. It depends what you are praying for and what it is that must grow. Are you growing something small like a head of lettuce or are you growing something big like a Red Wood Tree? What Abraham was waiting for was pretty big.

The thing to remember in all of this is that even though a plant grows so slowly that you cannot "see" it growing, it is. Looking at time lapse photography shows us that. Well, your prayer is the same way. You may not be able to "see" it growing, but it is. God is working behind the scenes and your prayer is coming to pass little by little.

The bible says, “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” (Heb. 6:15 NIV)

So, in order to see God’s promise of answered prayer come fully to pass, we must realize that prayer is a process and we must have the same kind of faith and patience that Abraham had... And we must have it no matter what happens and no matter how long it takes.

Submitted by John B. Agati
Author of: “Suffering (God’s Will?)”

More information about this and an upcoming book “Suffering, Unanswered Prayer, (And How to Fix the Whole Thing),” along with a short bio may be found at: www.

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