– Robert Murray McCheyne
Devotional: How to Keep Hanging on When Christ Seems Deaf to Your Pleas
As a Christian reading this, you probably already know that not all your prayers have been answered. In fact, in many cases, you have probably been praying for an extended period of time for one particular problem to be solved, but it seems that God has a tough time answering your prayer.
If this thought has crossed your mind, you are hardly alone. This is a common Christian experience. We have all had prayers that took a long time to get answered, or in many cases, didn’t get answered at all.
Murray McCheyne’s quote sums up the whole point behind prayer. I’m sorry to break it to you, but prayer is not about you. Prayer is not about making your problems go away. Prayer is not about fulfilling your needs.
Prayer, above all else, should be about one person and one person alone. That person, of course, is Jesus Christ. When we pray, we are supposed to be conversing with a friend. We are supposed to be pouring out our hearts in an honest and emotionally intense way with the only real friend we have in the universe, who is Jesus Christ our Creator.
Unfortunately, when we look at our prayers as simply just petitions that need an answer or resolution, we miss the picture. We take our eyes off the center of the relationship, which is Jesus Christ, and focus it on ourselves. We focus on our needs, what we need, and what’s missing, and we lose sight of why we even have prayer in the first place. Sometimes, the answers don’t come because Jesus wants to remind you of this fact.
When these situations happen, and they will happen, we are really given two opportunities. Either we take the opportunity to blame God, or we take the golden opportunity to analyze and realize our relationship with Christ.
In short, when God doesn’t answer our prayers, it’s an opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of who He is and what His real nature is. God isn’t a genie; He isn’t a dispenser of miracles where you just put in a “prayer coin” and out comes a goodie. It doesn’t work that way.
In the same vein, the Bible isn’t a collection of magical incantations that you just claim, and repeat again and again based solely on your needs what whatever your need will come to pass.
It’s all about Him. In fact, the reason why we’re here is all about Him. This is why it’s really important to focus on the last sentence of McCheyne’s quote, which is, “Be still, and know that Christ is God”. When we resolve to be still, we resolve to calm down our needs, our internal dialogue, our frustrations, our worries, and just focus on God Himself.
We have to learn the following:
- First, God has His own timeline. His timeline is not our own timeline. He has His own perfect reason why He has His own timeline. We just have to trust and believe that the reasons for those timelines are ultimately for our own good.
- Second, God has His own priorities. Did you know that God’s number one priority is that your soul be saved? That’s it. That’s the main priority for Jesus. He wants to be with you eternally. That’s how important you are to Him. Everything else pales in comparison.
Maybe when our prayers take a long time to get answered, Jesus is giving us an opportunity to adopt His priority for our lives. Maybe it’s our opportunity to focus on our personal salvation instead of other problems.
Finally, the delay may be a test of your faith. Faith is very easy to say. Anybody can say, “I have faith.” However, challenges are what strengthen our faith. Just like a muscle only gets bigger when you work out and you put a lot of pressure on it. Only when it’s going through challenges and hardships can it really develop.
The central truth of our lives here on earth is fairly straightforward. We exist for God’s glory, not for our own. Once we are able to fully understand this and live our lives according to this, everything else doesn’t matter.
Yes, God answers prayers, but even if He doesn’t, it’s important to focus on the central truth of our existence. Then, everything will make sense.