As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.Psalm 138:3 (NLT)
Have you ever seen the movie Zootopia? If not, you’re missing out on a pretty funny, and cute, Disney story. One of the most remembered scenes, and probably the funniest, is when the main characters are forced to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to gain some information on a bunch of unsolved kidnappings. When they get there, they discover that all of the employees are sloths. For those who live in a cave, a sloth is a medium sized furry, cuddly creature with very long limbs who loves to hang out in trees and eat leaves. Perhaps the feature they are most known for is that they move very, very slowly. Every action is in slow motion. Want to swing over to that branch which is a foot away? That’ll take five minutes. (OK, I exaggerate a bit. But not much.) The reason the movie scene is funny is that the main characters are in a bit of a rush, but the sloth employees are moving in super-slo-mo. It is frustrating to say the least. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth as they wait for the answers they are seeking. Eventually they get the information and they are off and running.
Sometimes it seems like God has sloth-like tendencies. I mean, I throw up a prayer for guidance, healing, or a million other things, and the answer takes forever to come back; if at all. It’s like He’s moving in extreme slo-mo.
In contrast, we have this verse out of the Psalms which has a different take on it, “As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” This doesn’t seem to make sense with my own, personal experience with prayer. The answers don’t come quickly.
I believe what the Psalmist meant was that as soon as our prayers go up, God begins to take action. Of course, we’re super impatient. We want things done immediately. But God wants them done perfectly. Perfection takes time. So, though we often don’t get an immediate answer, it is probably because God is lining everything up to provide the perfect answer.
Prayer begins and ends with trust in God. We must trust that He will answer (even if it’s “no” and we don’t like it) in His own time as He provides us with the perfect answer for our unique set of circumstances. He’s not being a sloth. He’s being God, looking at all the angles, options, and possibilities before giving us the perfect answer.
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