(First appeared in SIM Niger Newsletter, October 2008)
Prayer, Does it Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey is an excellent book that deals with the problem of unanswered prayer. Yancey says that we often overlook an important fact, God acts slowly. He writes,
"Think of the centuries that passed between the disruption caused by Adam and the reconciliation brought by Jesus: centuries that included Abraham's waiting for a child, the Israelites waiting for liberation, the prophets waiting for Messiah. Biblical history tells a meandering, zigzag tale of doglegs and detours. God's plan unfolds like a leisurely opera, not a Top 40 tune. For those of us caught in any one phrase of the opera, especially a mournful phrase, the music may seem unbearably sad. Onward it moves, at deliberate speed and with great effort."
The very tedium, the act of waiting itself, works to nourish in us qualities of patience, persistence, trust, gentleness, compassion?or it may do so, if we place ourselves in the stream of God's movement on earth.
"'[I am] more convinced than ever that the only final solution to unanswered prayer is Paul's explanation to the Corinthians: 'For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part but then shall I know even as also I am known.? No human being, no matter how wise or how spiritual, can interpret the ways of God, explain why one miracle and not another, why an apparent intervention here and not there. Along with the apostle Paul, we can only wait and trust."
It all comes down to trust. We are part of something greater than our generation and yet our current joys and struggles are every bit as much a part of God's unfolding plan as any other time in history.