Sunday, June 5, 2011

Proof that God doesn’t answer prayers... now

This morning I attended a church in town that has been without a pastor for 4 years. Also without a building in which to meet for 9 months. This was their second meeting back in their building. Someone pointed out that 9 months is the same amount of incubation time needed for the coming of new life. I like that image.

Does it ever bother you when God doesn’t answer immediately? It does me.

Maybe it wasn’t meant so, but I’ve always taken quite literally Paul’s charge in Ephesians: “do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (4:26). I can’t stand leaving something unresolved. There have been nights in our marriage where I would not let my poor wife sleep because I had to unload (or patch-up) something. There have been nights I’ve sat awake typing, writing, calling, or praying, because a part of me was not at peace, it was unresolved. I love it when music is left discordant, unresolved; that’s part of the beauty of jazz. But I can’t easily accept the same discordance in life.

And so I pray. And I do so faithfully. I know God will answer, that’s why I ask. But then what happens when He doesn’t, at least not now? I don’t know.

Today’s culture demands immediate response to everything. We live in the era of 4G, on-demand movies, pizza delivery, and internet answers. In my neighborhood, you can even call up a supermarket and have groceries delivered same-day. So when we pray, we expect the same of God.

Joseph’s family spent over 20 years thinking him dead, gone. For 40 years Israel wondered in the wilderness. The Jews were exiled away from their temple, home, and everything they knew for some 50 or more years. From the prophets of the OT to the coming of Jesus, 400 years of silence from God passed.

Back to the church from this morning. 4 years without a pastor is a long time. 9 months out of their building (at no fault of their own) is a long time. In that time, the church has struggled, dwindled, questioned God, and waited. I could tell you that in that time they’ve learned and grown as a core body. I could tell you that the pastor who is coming in September is arriving at a perfect time that intricately lines up with the coming and going of others and the state of the city. I could say that the 4yrs/9mos of waiting has been timed for great blessings. But if I said any of that, I’d be making it up. Some of it may turn out to be true, but we don’t know yet.

What we do know is that God took a *long* time to answer the prayers that were sent His way.

It wasn’t the first time. And it won’t be the last.

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