As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.Psalm 138:3 (NLT)
Talking to someone who is invisible. That’s a bit of a trick. In our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not, we take non-verbal visual cues from people as we talk with them. We notice their eye contact. We notice their posture. (Are their arms folded, or relaxed?) We notice if they are engaged in the conversation, or distracted by everything else around them. In short, communication in our day-to-day lives is much more than just words spoken from a mouth or heard with ears.
I believe this is sometimes why it can be frustrating when we are praying to God. We don’t get those visual cues from Him. Is He making eye contact and engaged? Or, is He busy trying to direct the affairs of the universe? Is He relaxed in the conversation, or is He taking a defensive posture? In fact, often times it feels like we’re talking to ourselves. (Of course, if you’re like me, you sometimes do this whether you are praying or not!)
Because of this, verses like the one we are learning today can seem foreign. How can the psalmist claim that, “As soon as I pray, you answer me?” Often times I pray and don’t feel like I got an answer. Sometimes I pray for the same thing for days and don’t get a direct answer. Maybe you can relate?
But, here’s what I want us to consider today. Perhaps God’s way of answering is different than our human way. This makes sense considering He’s God and all. So, if He doesn’t answer as we expect, how does He answer? He is a God of action.
As soon as we begin praying, things start happening. But, here’s the trick – things happen according to His timeline, not ours. So, while we may pray for direction in life, He does begin laying the plans for our lives, but will lead us one step at-a-time. Or, when we pray for healing, sometimes it isn’t immediate. Sometimes, it won’t even happen in this life. But, He has made plans for eternal healing that lasts forever and is not temporary.
In short, when we pray, we must pray in faith that God will answer. But, we must be prepared to submit to His answer, His timeline, His way of doing things. When we do, we will, as the psalmist says, receive encouragement and strength.