“Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled; but You, O Lord—how long?” Psalm 6:2-3
When we pray in faith, submitting to the will of God, truly believing that he hears and will answer our prayers, how long will it take for us to see the answer to our prayers?
Most of us know that there’s no set or easy answer to that question. The answer we want is the one that says that God immediately answers the prayer of faith; within moments we realize the answer to the petition we’ve made according to his will. And sometimes that’s exactly what we experience. But only sometimes.
Many other times the prayer of faith finds its answer only after a prolonged season of repeatedly returning to our knees as, time after time, we petition God for the blessing we seek.
And we’re tempted to give up. We’re tempted to think that God isn’t listening, that somehow, this time, he’s abandoned us and has left us to suffer and muddle a long on our own.
In the book Early Writings, by Ellen White, on page seventy-three, we read, “Here is faith, naked faith, to believe that we receive the blessing, even before we realize it. When the promised blessing is realized and enjoyed, faith is swallowed up.”
Did you see that? “When the promised blessing is realized … faith is swallowed up.” That seems to be telling us that faith only exists in the time between when we ask and when we receive the answer we seek.
God wants us to have faith in him all the time. That means that there will never be a time in which we aren’t seeking for and relying upon him to meet some need, or to supply and sustain us, as we live and labor for him. Faith means that we’re always in need and always waiting as God’s will is fulfilled not just in the manner in which our prayers are answered but also in the timing.
It’s natural for us, in the immaturity of our faith, to grow restless and impatient in the interval where we’re waiting for the answers we ask for to come. In our focus text we can hear David expressing some impatience of his own and it appears that he may have only been praying for one night. But by the end of the psalm he’s laid hold upon faith and believes that God has heard him and will answer.
That’s where faith exists. In the place where we’re confident that God does care, that he has heard, and where we trust him to answer in the time and the manner where is will will truly be done.