Have you ever had an unanswered or unfulfilled prayer request? Me too.
2023 has been a rollercoaster of a year and the reason I have been more silent than usual. It’s been a season of many hardships and a lot of prayer. Prayers that I have been repeating for months on end without seeing any evidence of an answer.
We know that God is not a vending machine. Prayer is more than just asking God to do A, B & C. Prayer is about aligning our hearts to God’s. Connecting with God. Transformation. Forgiveness.
But there are seasons when we pray for specific requests, good things even, and for whatever reason those good things allude us or those we love. Healing. Peace. Justice. Truth. Recognition or credit for a job well done.
The book of Esther is an interesting book in the Bible because it never once mentions God. However, the lack of reference to God does not reflect a lack of action by God. On the contrary the book of Esther documents the rescue of God’s people, the Isrealites, from annihilation.
What I love most about the book of Esther is that it mirrors our everyday lives. We don’t get the benefit of an outside narrator, clearly spelling out or highlighting the actions of God on our behalf. We don’t know the outcome before it happens in real time.
Like the book of Esther, we can be certain of one thing – God is always at work orchestrating the details to fall exactly into place at just the right time for our ultimate good (Jeremiah 29:11).
Pulling out one such example from Esther is Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Mordecai uncovered an assasination plot against the King. You would think the King would be incredibly grateful and reward Mordecai’s devotion and loyalty, but he doesn’t. Instead, it is just recorded in the official records of the King.
Fast forward and the king’s number two, Haman, convinced the King to annihilate the Jews because of a personal grudge against Mordecai. Haman felt so confident he went as far as building a gallows at his house so he could ask the king to hang Mordecai at his home (forget the welcome mat, nothing says come on in and get cozy like a gallows out front).
But the night before Haman goes to ask the king to hang Mordecai, the king has a restless night. To cure his insomnia he has the official records brought in and read to him. Low and behold he is read the account of Mordecai revealing the assassination plot.
The king immediately asks what was done for this man. The response? Nothing.
The next morning when Haman struts in cocky and ready to request the life of Mordecai, the king asks him how he should honor a loyal subject. Assuming no one could be more favored or loyal than himself, he concocts a grand public display of the king’s favor. The king loves his idea and tells him to personally see to it that Mordecai is honored in that way.
Haman had approached the palace self-assured and assuming all his plans were falling into place that day, but God had other plans. This pivotal moment marks the beginning of the demise of Haman and his scheme to annihilate the Jews. And spoiler, in an ironic twist of fate, the king ultimately hung Haman on the gallows Haman built for Mordecai.
Had Mordecai been honored right after he had revealed the plot to kill the king his loyal deeds could have been long forgotten and deliverance for the Jews would not unfolded as it did.
And the same is true for us. God has a plan. His timing is perfect.
We may not understand why we feel passed over or ignored, but God does. Perhaps his seeming inactivity is really just a – not yet – or a – at just the right moment.
Just because Mordecai didn’t see the fruits of his good deeds, doesn’t mean God wasn’t at work. Setting up not just Mordecai, but the entire Jewish nation up for success. And the same can be true for us.
What we perceive as delays can be opportunities. Opportunities to trust God. To grow in our faith. To see God’s deliverance come in a different or unexpected way. To build relationships that would not have otherwise blossomed. To allow us seasons that sow the seeds of compassion and understanding. To prepare us to better handle what it is we are requesting.
Today, may we be reminded that unanswered prayers do not reflect God’s inactivity. May we remind ourselves that a – Not Yet – is not a – No. May we trust that God hears our prayers, cares deeply for us, and answers will come in God’s perfect timing.