What is in Between Ask and Receive?
What do we do when we ask for something and then wait to receive it? A sermon I recently listened to spoke to this topic. Tim Dilena referred to John 16:20-24
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
So often as Christians, we pray prayers and when they aren’t answered right away we begin to grow weary and impatient. What we don’t understand as humans is when we pray for one specific thing, God does 10,000 things to answer our prayer.
For example… I’ve always had a desire to get married and I have prayed for a husband (as well as others who prayed for me) since I was younger. In April 2011 Colby and I get married. Rewind. Colby and I meet at Northwest Bible in 2009. Rewind. Colby and I had both been going to NW bible since 2007 and didn’t meet until 2009, despite the fact we were both ran around with the same group of friends. Rewind. I church hopped for awhile until a coworker who I became close friends with mentioned she went to Northwest. Rewind. I found my job and eventually met my co-worker because of a college career fair. Rewind. I went to Baylor. Rewind. The only reason I ended up at Baylor because it was close to home. Rewind. My parents moved to Dallas my junior year of High school. Rewind. My parents moved for a new job for my dad. Rewind a lot further… My parents were born in Trinidad and Venezuela and ended up in the states…. Do you see where I am going with this? There are many more details that go into the prayer for a husband, Colby and I meeting, and us eventually getting married. 10,000 things had to happen in order for that prayer to be answered. Including, Colby’s whole side of the story, every other relationship of mine ending, every move, job, schooling, location of living, circle of friends, etc etc etc. God was working for years and generations to come to bring Colby and I together. Praise be to Him!
So, when God delays, He isn’t delaying because He is angry, but instead because He is working something inside of us and all around us. He knows the best timing to answer each prayer we have and won’t answer it until He knows we are ready. He not only knows what we need, but He when we need what we need. Just because we don’t see the 10,000 miracles he works every day to answer our prayer doesn’t mean God isn’t active in the situation.
Above I came up with an example in my life, but in Joshua 6 is a biblical example. God instructed Joshua and the armed men to march around the city once for 6 days and on the 7th day told them to walk around 7 times. In verse 10, Joshua commanded the people not to complain or speak, but to continue circling the city. And on the 7th day in verse 20 the wall collapsed.
So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there. Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.” When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout,the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.Joshua 6:6-20
What happens between ask and receive? Just like Joshua and the men experienced – circles! To us it seems like the monotony of repeating the same thing over and over: same job, same house to go home to, same husband, same friends, the same thing day in and day out.
But, what we think is circles is actually God’s potters wheel. He puts his hands on us and what we think is monotony is actually Him forming us into the person we need to become so He can answer our prayer. What’s important during the circles is how we act when the walls are still up. Will we shout out and complain? Or will we remain quiet and patient? While we are waiting and the wall is still up, we should continue to remain silent and praise God.
So while we are waiting, we need to keep walking, because while we are praying for one thing (a baby), God is doing 10,000 to make the one thing happen.