When You Feel Like Prayer Isn't Working
“Jesus said, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’” John 5:17 (NIV)
I looked at his mug shot and felt my heart tear in two. I had prayed for this man my entire adult life. And now he was in jail.
From the outside, Richard’s (not his real name) life looked hopeless. Alcohol. Anger. Hate. Unemployment. Failed relationships. Richard’s rollercoaster life had fewer highs and more lows as time progressed. And now he was behind bars.
Two days after Richard’s arrest, I went online and read the details of the police report. It was the time of arrest that grabbed my heart … 8:32.
Oh friend, that was no coincidence. The officer could have easily rounded the time to 8:30. But no, it was 8:32.
For 20 years, John 8:32 was my personalized license plate. Just a simple reminder of the importance of truth: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(NIV) It’s what I consider to be my life verse. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a digital clock on any given day, and it read 8:32. I take it as a God-wink from my Heavenly Father letting me know that He sees me and loves me.
And on this day, I just knew God was saying to me … I see him. I love him. I’ve got this. He’s not hopeless. Not by a long shot!
In 1 Kings 18:41-45, there’s a story about a prophet named Elijah. God had caused a 3-1/2-year drought in Israel because His people followed foreign gods. Miracle after miracle occurred during those years, but it’s what happened at the end of the drought that caught my attention.
Elijah sent a message to King Ahab to let him know that the 42-month dry spell was coming to an end, even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
After delivering the news, Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground, and put his face between his knees.
“‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant.” (1 Kings 18:43a, NIV) (He wanted him to see if there was a cloud.)
“There’s nothing there,” (1 Kings 18:43b, NIV) the servant said upon his return.
Six times Elijah sent the servant back down the mountain to see if there was a cloud. Six times he returned reporting there was not.
Elijah said, “Go back.” (v. 43)
He observed the sky and came back to tell Elijah the news.
“A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:44b, NIV).
Here’s a question to ponder: Was God working the entire time the servant was running up and down Mt. Carmel, or did God make the cloud appear all of a sudden on the seventh trek? I don’t know for sure, but I think God was working the entire time.
I’m not much of a meterologist, but I do remember a little bit about rain cycles from elementary school. Water falls from the sky into oceans, rivers and lakes. The sun heats the water, and it evaporates as water vapor. The vapor rises from the earth into the atmosphere, cools, then forms droplets called condensation.
Little droplets get together and form bigger droplets. Eventually those droplets form clouds. When the droplets get too heavy, they fall back to the earth as precipitation into oceans, rivers and lakes. Then the cycle starts all over again.
So God was working on the servant’s first run down the mountain; the servant just couldn’t see it. As Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). Just because you can’t see God working doesn’t mean He’s not.
I don’t know what you’re praying about today, but don’t give up. God is always working … even if we can’t see it.
And Richard? He wasn’t in jail long. God is still working, and I’m still praying. I see a cloud about the size of a man’s hand.
Lord, I pray that You will open __________ eyes to see You and follow You. Even though I might not see You working, I know You are. I believe, and I will not give up hope. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (NIV)
When you don’t have much time during the day to pause and talk to God, you want to make the minutes you have count. A Pocketbook of Prayers is brand new from Proverbs 31 Ministries, written to help guide you or a friend through six different types of prayer using the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Get your copy today with a donation of your choice!
God never intended for us to settle for a mediocre, mundane faith. Jesus came that we might have life to the full! To learn more, check out Sharon Jaynes’ book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. It comes with a Bible study guide that’s perfect for group or individual study.
Stop by Sharon’s website, and check out her free resources on the “Free Downloads” page.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Who are you praying for? In the comments section, leave that person’s name or initial, (please be discrete) and let’s pray for each other.
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