Praying in slow response areas is something akin to paying into retirement in your 20s. It may look and feel unimportant at the time—after all, there is no obvious benefit . . . for the moment. We must be convinced that our monthly payments are not disappearing into thin air. With prayer there is no way to check an online account to reassure ourselves. We must reassure ourselves with whom we’ve invested.
He . . . always keeps his promises,
. . . never holds out on us (He even gave us his son),
. . . has all of eternity to work out our finite requests. –Lillias Trotter
Wrestle with God in prayer. When the promises of God and “reality” are in stark contrast, we either become offended with God and distance ourselves from him—or we cling to him, wrestling him for a blessing. We on the Nune field are not blind to the fact that we have worked for 12 years as church planters and not planted a church. We are not okay with the fact that people we know and love have not accepted Jesus—and have died. We do not simply shrug and walk away when we lay hands on someone and they are not healed or pray for hearts to be opened to Jesus’ forgiveness and they remain closed.
In each situation, we have a choice: to see it purely from a human perspective—which Jesus says is a dangerous trap (Matthew 16:23)—or to wrestle with God in prayer until we get his perspective. In every “unanswered” (yet-to-be-answered) prayer, God has shown us more of himself, more of his plan. Usually he speaks to us through his written word. We end up with a blessing every time.
Time in prayer matters. We spend time on what we consider valuable (especially as Westerners). If we think that what we can do is sufficient, we don’t spend much time in prayer—we have things to do. If we are convinced we can do nothing apart from him, we spend more time asking him to do the work that only he can do. Time in prayer requires an honest look at who we are in front of God. It says,
Lord of the Harvest, this is your work. It will be accomplished by your Spirit, not by my strength.
As a team, one of several key measures we track is shares, and we track prayer hours. It helps the important things FEEL important.
Refined and increased our longings. Believe it or not, unanswered prayers have INCREASED our faith. Some things are worth asking once or twice. Other things are worth asking for years. You may know a couple who was not able to have children for years finally have a baby. Every baby is a blessing, but that couple’s joy is somehow deeper, fuller, sweeter—because of the long wait. I think God isn’t being slow to answer our prayers—he’s increasing our joy!
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