Have you prayed for someone you care about on an issue that seems overwhelming? Are you discouraged because you haven’t seen your prayers answered?
Don’t be discouraged. God is answering. He is working in the life of the person you are praying for – and He is working in your life as well, through this experience.
When you get discouraged, stop and focus on what God is doing. I guarantee you He is doing something. If you look closely and ask for His discernment, you will feel His response in your spirit and you might even see it in the flesh.
Here’s the problem we often encounter with intercession (besides our impatience and unbelief) – we expect the outcome to look a certain way and we get discouraged when we don’t see that particular outcome.
What if God is answering our prayers in ways we didn’t expect?
Let’s say I am praying for a loved one to break free of addiction. I’ve prayed for months and have seen no changes in the addictive behavior.
But what do I see? If I look closely enough, I might see that the person’s heart has softened toward his family. Or maybe he spends more time with his children, wanting to be involved in their activities and hear about their day.
Maybe this person is starting to suffer with stomach problems. Don’t be surprised if that is an answer from God. It could be that God is allowing my loved one to feel an immediate physical result of his addiction, to get his attention. The stomach problem might be intolerable enough to drive my loved one to get help for what he really needs.
How about my loved one’s family? Is his wife becoming more willing to confront her husband’s behavior? Are his children less angry or afraid? Have they started to pray for him? Are his parents enabling him less and speaking the truth more?
What is God doing in my heart through this process? Am I so focused on what isn’t happening to my loved one that I have failed to notice how many people in addiction God has sent to me for prayer? Or maybe He has presented me with an opportunity to speak about addiction in the community, and I never realized this was part of God’s response to those prayers for my loved one.
Has God improved my heart toward my loved one in the process of praying for him? Are my prayers getting more specific and rooted in God’s Word? Am I spending more time with God?
Every one of these changes is an answer to those prayers. God is working hard to respond to the cries of our hearts. It’s important that we open our eyes to see what He is really doing so we can surrender our prayer lives to Him.
The next time you wonder why God doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, stop and look closely at what He is actually doing in response to those heartfelt prayers. You will be amazed.