So many times when I refer to the word ”answer” I am thinking of a supplied need. This typically is a need that didn’t involve me working to get completely. For instance. My perspective of an answered prayer would be me walking down the street not knowing how I would put gas in my car. Asking God, I look down and see a twenty-dollar bill on the ground and Bam! My prayer answered and all I did was walk. How many of us view prayer in this fashion. This isn’t to say God cannot or will not do that but is this consistent with how God works the majority of the time? The Bible shows how God answered a similar prayer for Gideon in the book of Judges when he asked for God to answer prayer by way of making a rag wet and keeping the ground around it dry. Then a second time by keeping the rag dry and making the ground around it wet. God did this for him immediately. Then there was Solomon who asked God for wisdom and then was presented with a situation to improve his wisdom over time as his answer.
There have been times in my life where this has happened but and it depended on my faith in most cases. However, the immediately answered prayers didn’t fortify my character or build my endurance and James refers to in the first chapter. I have heard it said that God is less concerned with our happiness and more concerned with our holiness. I believe that to be true. Happiness doesn’t get us the external life we seek and Christ didn’t die on the cross for our comfort. He died for our sanctification and his love for us. So what can we expect when we pray and request things of God? Quite simply put, a response. We have created an expectation for the word answer when it comes to prayer. When I pray and ask God for an answer, honestly I am praying for some kind of quick relief. This desire is typically driven by a lack of comfort and or an unwillingness to change my perspective on a situation that is plaguing me.
For this reason, I believe God takes us through and builds our imagination and faith, so we don't get a wrong perspective of prayer. It not only requires faith to pray, but it requires faith to believe God will answer and then faith to act on our beliefs. When most of us pray we expect it to be done without cost or energy on our end. However, what would that do in the long wrong for us? Where would we get that endurance and patience from what God inspired James to write about our trials? Matthew 7:7 tells us to ask and it will be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened. God is telling us when we ask he will give us the answer but even after we have the answer there is an action that must be taking on our part that requires faith that it was "given" after we asked.
God does not seek to make us of independent beings of himself but the complete opposite. He wishes for us to depend on him. From a human perspective, if God were to answer me right away with the answer I wanted without any work on my part, it would become a process eventually. I have a need, so I make a request, then I get what I want until I have a need again. Our needs would drive us to pray not our love and trust in God. For example, I may pray for God to tell me what is 2+2? Our initial expectation of an answer is "4". However what if God's response of 2+2 was 3+1, 0+4 or even 2x2? God's "how" in regards to the response to our prayers will Grow our faith, intern truly making it about his will. We must change our perspective on what we believe an answer is and how we expect God to answer or respond to our prayers. He will always answer but will we be ready to walk by faith and do the work to be perfected through our prayers and his response to them. When we pray we should be looking for God's response throughout each situation in our lives. For instance, a few weeks ago I asked God to give me patience with my three daughters. I didn't get a super-natural feeling or dose of patience, I was presented with multiple situations that required me to seek God for patience in each moment and identify it was him at work. In the past, I would have seen this as upsetting, but when we change how we view God's response to us we can now thank him for these moments that don't feel good now but will be good for is later.