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Healthy Responses To How God Answers Prayer


‘This is part of the synchroblog on waiting, to celebrate the release of Those Who Wait: Finding God in Disappointment, Doubt and Delay by Tanya Marlow – out now. See more here and link up to the synchroblog here.’


Photo credit_ ahmed safe (unsplash.com)

A yes to prayer - get excited;

A no to prayer - get a lesson;

A maybe to prayer - in the waiting, you get God.

 - Sermon quote (Dr. John Marshall)


Our garage is an absolute mess. We moved into our home more than three years ago, and everything we needed to sort through got placed in the garage. Among the boxes we still haven’t gone through all these years later (they’re not labeled with my initials and I’ll not say any more than that), we now have shelving along the side perimeters, making things appear semi-organized. I have several containers of women’s ministry items I’ll take to our church building when we actually have one. There’s a huge pile I’ll price soon for a garage sale in May. At the very least, we look like we’ve started the process. Really, I’m embarrassed to show anyone our garage.


From time to time, my husband asks me if I know where to find a certain something, and inevitably (as if someone somewhere is laughing at me) that something can be found in the garage. But where? So, I go into our garage with a hefty level of trepidation, silently praying, 

God, please show me where to look for this something.


Not every time, but way more times than a person with a garage in this condition deserves, I find the something rather quickly. I take a moment to celebrate with God, giving him a spiritual high five. I supposed we could debate how much he actually cares about my finding anything in my mess of a garage, but I choose to believe he works with us in even these tiniest of ways. If he told us to talk of his commands when we sit in our house and when we walk by the way, surely he doesn't mind sharing some time with me in our garage.


Believe me, when God answers yes to my prayerful search for a lost item in the garage, I get excited. Any yes from God feels good, am I right? Big or small.


I’ve heard my shares of “nos” too. Often, a “no” will accompany my desire to say something I shouldn’t. As I get older, I’m much better at asking God about my words before I speak. I believe the quote above offers a lot of wisdom, and when we hear a “no,” it’s important to look at the reason behind it. When I sense a no from God (ie. as we’re looking into summer activities for our daughter or when I'm inquiring about taking on a certain volunteer opportunity) I’m learning to go back to God and ask him for further guidance. The no is really a beginning, because God is always at work. We need to ask Jesus to help us better hear the “nos” with humility, and press in to what the lesson might be for us.


Wouldn’t it be a very different world if God always answered our prayers with a “yes” or “no” right away? Friends, we spend a lot of time in the “maybes,” don’t we? That’s why I love this quote so much. What if we realized in the maybes, God gives us more of himself? How would our lives be richer if we knew this to be true, and while we waited, we trusted our Father to prepare blessings for us - God-glorifying living we cannot imagine.

In the time between “we’ve started trying to have a baby” and the moment you hold a newborn in your arms.

In the long days at work when you’re praying for God to give you new, more fulfilling career opportunities.

In your single days - that you’ll surely look back on with fondness - but right now feel lonely and unsettled.

In all the hours you spend looking for a new house because the last two kids and the mounds of stuff have you bursting out of your current one.

In between the fights with your spouse, as you're praying desperately for your marriage.

In those final days with your loved one, who is about to enter glory and the suffering will end.

In our church pews, when we’ve asked God to change the hearts of leadership, all the while realizing he’s whispering it’s your heart he wants to work on most.


We spend much of our life waiting. Perhaps there isn’t a time when we aren’t waiting in some area of life. If it’s true - we get more of God in the waiting - I’m looking at these parts of my life through an entirely new lens then. More of God!! These areas where we hear “maybe” become exciting places of growth in our relationship with God. If you want more of him, this might be just the place to start. Where does he have you waiting? Rather than complaining about it, try looking up into his big eyes - the ones we can’t actually see but we can surely imagine - and tell him you’re trusting him to work it all for good. Join him in the waiting.


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