Ask, Expect, Wait, Receive
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11
The process of getting from the time of our prayer petition to the time of receiving the thing God provides can sometimes be challenging, but if accepted and patiently embraced it can often be more beneficial and valuable to our faith than the end result.
Oftentimes prayer requests made one day may not be fully answered or fulfilled after many days or weeks or months or even years. And during the extended time we can become discouraged and weary, waiting and hoping to receive the things desired. “How long Lord, how long?” was the cry of those in Revelation 6:9-10.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelations 6:9-10
It is not uncommon to the human soul to want what we want when we want it or to feel the pressure of the moment to cry out for deliverance before a crisis occurs. That is real life. But it is not necessarily the way God chooses to answer our petitions. Some answers come immediately and many come before we ask. But those that are long in coming can test our patience, our faith, our trust and our resolve to persevere despite the time it takes for the answers to come. So let’s consider the process.
We begin with the obedience to ask. We ask because God has commanded us to ask that we may receive that our joy may be full. [John 16:24] That last phrase carries more weight in the process of praying and receiving than we generally think it does. God’s purpose in answering our prayers is to bring us the fullness of joy. That means His timing is always best for what we really need and want from Him.
When people ask if you would like to have a million dollars, nearly everyone would immediately say, yes of course. We all think having great sums of money suddenly is the answer to nearly every human need. But how many stories have we heard of many who actually come into great wealth, whose lives are virtually ruined or they come to total poverty soon after because they were not prepared to know how to profitably handle their sudden wealth, so they quickly lose it. When we ask God for anything His response to us is first and foremost to act in our favor and to our benefit short term and long term so that we will ultimately know His joy and be fulfilled with life and that more abundantly.
So after we pray, because of our faith in His Word, we should expect to see the fulfillment of our petitions. As with all things in life some things come quickly when we seek them, others take longer and the most valuable of all can take a lifetime to achieve. So our expectation when we pray is rooted in the integrity of God’s Word, that what He has promised He will do. We can have absolute confidence in that.
Then, we wait and keep on waiting with confident hope in Him. God does not forget and He does not dismiss our petitions uncaringly. In fact, He doesn’t dismiss them at all unless we ask for things inconsistent with His Word and His Holy nature. God is not obliged to answer any prayers that seek evil or to do harm to anyone unustly, to engage in illicit or criminal behavior or to takeblessings or the rewards of righteous labor from one who has through diligence earned them and give them to another who has done nothing to deserve them.
All such things are inconsistent with the nature and will of God. His desire and His intent is to bless, to heal, to deliver from the snare of sin and death, to overcome evil with good, to provide for our needs and give us the desires of our hearts, to show us His kindness, compassion, mercy, grace and love in all things to all people at all times. But, for the long haul of waiting we need patience.
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Hebrews 10:36
Then in due time, according to God’s wisdom, and for our benefit and blessing the answer comes. We oftentimes receive the answer to our prayers when we are least aware of it. It almost comes as a surprise, even after we have long forgotten that we even prayed. But, it blesses God when we prosper in all things as our souls prosper.
Hope deferred makes our hearts sick. But when what we hoped for is realized then we are filled with joy.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
Our souls prosper as we pursue the Word and will of God, in knowing the Scriptures and living by them, because they are God’s expressed promises to and for us. We also prosper in the process of asking that we may receive, in expecting earnestly to receive, in waiting patiently for the answer to our petitions and then in receiving what we have asked for that our joy may be full.
So ask, expect, wait and receive. Joy, full joy, is on the way.