I was reminded this week to pray for someone in my life. I hadn’t thought about him or prayed for him in awhile, but he’s someone I should be praying for often, daily even. He’s my younger brother.
Without going into all the details, I’ll just say that I am praying for him to know God. I fervently desire that one day he will fully submit his life, his desires, and his will to our good King and Father, whatever the cost.
But here’s the thing. I’ve been praying this for him for the past 20 years or so.
And at this point there doesn’t seem to be any indication that this request will come to fruition any time soon, if ever.
It’s hard to persevere in prayer, isn’t it? Especially when weeks, months, and maybe even years pass and God doesn’t grant our request. I don’t mean the more mundane, short-sighted, and often selfish requests such as for a pay raise we don’t truly need or for my kid to get into Harvard. I’m talking about requests that weigh heavy on our hearts and minds. Maybe it’s for a friend or family member to come to Christ. Maybe you long for a spouse or for a child. Maybe you have labored long in God’s mission and are waiting for a harvest. Maybe God is leading you through a prolonged season of suffering with no end in sight.
How long will I have to wait? Will God ever give me what I ask?
I don’t know. You don’t know. And that’s hard.
It’s hard because on the one hand we have seen His goodness time and time again to answer prayer and to graciously give us what we ask. But on the other hand, we’ve also seen plenty of times where, in His sovereignty, His answer was no. And even if the answer is yes, we have no idea when those circumstances will come together. Furthermore, there’s the possibility that some sin in our lives is hindering our prayer requests (James 4:3, 1 Peter 3:7, among others). So which is it this time?
We just don’t know.
And that, I think, is the point. Prayer is not some mathematical equation where I plug in my request here, pray for X amount of time, and end up with a clean answer on the other side. It’s about not knowing, while expressing what we do know – that God is faithful, good, and sovereign over all things all the time. It’s about abiding, communing, confessing, pleading, and resting in Him. It’s about repeatedly admitting our utter dependence on God to give us anything and everything. It’s about being washed clean again and again by His grace in Christ and in repentance so we might approach the throne boldly (Hebrews 4:16). It’s about continually releasing the anxieties of our desires into the hands of our good and omniscient Father. It’s about asking and asking so we can be reminded again and again of who’s really in control.
So this week, I encourage you (and me) to keep praying. We all get weary sometimes, and hope can seem grey and gone, but keep pressing on, keep praying. Pray not to try and get what you want, but to root yourself in dependence on Him, the giver of all good things in their perfect time, and the only one wise enough who knows what is best.
What’s something you’ve been praying and praying for? I would love to hear your request so that I can pray for it too!