“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40:31).

Charles Spurgeon assures us, “God blesses us by his temporary delays, as well as his prompt replies.” Spurgeon cautions us not to consider delays in prayer as denial: “God’s long-dated bills will be punctually honored. We are dealing with a Being whose years are without end; unanswered petitions are not unheard.” We come to God with many burdens and requests—and with earnest faith we leave them with him to act as he wills. Sometimes we sense we are in step with the Spirit and receive one answer after another that seem clearly to come from the Lord’s hands. Other times, great volumes of prayer go up, sometimes by many believers, and there’s no answer—in fact, the situation grows worse! We feel in those cases a severe testing of our faith.

Spurgeon says, “Beggars must not be choosers, and especially they must not be choosers when they have to deal with infinite wisdom and sovereignty.” We don’t like being reminded we’re beggars, but our human limitations make us beggars indeed as we pray for health, protection, spiritual vitality, and a host of other necessities. We come in our weakness, asking for strength. We come devastated, asking for God’s hope. Then, we express gratitude and praise for what God chooses to provide.

Spurgeon tells us that prayer doesn’t alter God’s purposes, but prayer is part of his purpose and plan. “We do not expect to change the will of God, but we believe our prayer to be part of his will.” Here is how he says we should pray, “As supplicants we come; joyful but not presumptuous, familiar as children before their Father, yet reverential as creatures before their Maker. Our God not only hears prayer, but also loves to hear it.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement