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Devotional by Ray Stedman for June 27- Prayer’s Delays

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Topic:Prayer’s Delays

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Hab. 2:1

When you face a problem in your life where you do not understand what God is doing, do not do what so many do, and say, Oh, I’ve tried faith and it doesn’t work, or, I’ve tried God but that doesn’t work, or, I’ve tried prayer and it doesn’t work. People who say those things really don’t understand what they are saying, because what they are saying is, God is a liar. There is no real God. What they are saying is, The Word of God is not true, the Bible is a fraud. They are declaring that God is faithless to his own promises. But God cannot ever be faithless to his word. The problem is not God, the problem is us. We are so ignorant, we see so little, we understand such a minute fraction of the scope of any problem. We ought to do as Habakkuk did — get out on the watchtower and wait to see what God is going to say. If we ask him, God will help us to understand something of what we are going through. That is what Habakkuk did, because he expected an answer.

Habakkuk says he is going to wait. God usually answers in one of three ways: Most commonly, he answers us through his Word. This is what is so valuable about reading the Word of God, especially when you are confused or troubled about how he is acting. Often light will come suddenly out of a verse which seemed obscure; you will see a new aspect of what you are facing. Perhaps an answer will come when you are listening to a message, or a verse will come to your mind, and it will deal with your situation. God has given us his Word so that we might understand how he acts.

Then sometimes God answers directly in our spirit. We sense a kind of pressure within which drives us in a certain direction; some conviction comes and settles and we cannot shake it off. We have to be careful here, because at this point the enemy can counterfeit the voice and mind of God. But the voice of the enemy is always nagging (to make you feel guilty) while God’s Spirit speaks quietly but persistently. If this leading is in line with what the Word of God says, then that is the Spirit of God leading us. Paul says that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God (Romans 8:14). We can expect to be led along that line.



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At other times God speaks through our circumstances. Doors shut, and we cannot open them, no matter how hard we try. That is God at work, shutting doors here and opening others, ushering us in one direction. Often this is the way God answers. But he promises us that he will answer. He will not leave us as orphans, nor abandon us to ignorance. James says, If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5) That is what Habakkuk did.

Father, thank you that I can wait on you, knowing that you are a faithful God and you always answer.

Life Application
How do we react to delayed or unanswered prayers? Are we responding as Habakkuk did, waiting expectantly for more complete understanding? What are three possible ways for this to unfold? While waiting, are we content to trust God, realizing he has the complete picture while ours is limited?

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