Cheryl is a licensed, ordained minister and has a BA in Psychology and Church ministry.
Faith not foolishness
There is a popular gospel song titled "He's an on-time God". The chorus has variations depending on who is singing but it basically states "He may not come when you want Him but He'll be there right on time". This is a presumptuous phrase that implies that if you just wait your every prayer will be answered but this is not true. I had a friend who for 7 years posted on social media about the husband God promised to send her but she died without a spouse. I prayed for my husband to be restored in the land of the living so we could enjoy more time together but he passed away so that prayer was not answered. I never prayed for him to go to heaven at this point. There is no way in either of these situations to say that God was right on time because what was being believed for did not manifest. The Christian church today has believers quoting phrases and slogans that are not biblical and when things do not work out the way they desire they try to redirect and insist the prayer was answered. Women and men who prayed for their marriages to work but ended up divorced did not have those prayers answered. I continue to be baffled by the way believers simply cannot acknowledge what is true and real. Quoting catchphrases is not being in faith and not honest. These slogans give Christians a way of saying what will give a false impression in order to fool people.
It's OK to accept that He did not answer a prayer
In some Christian circles, there is a phrase of "We win we always win" but that's not true. King David prayed and fasted for his baby to live but the child died. he acknowledged that he would one day see his son in eternity but he never lied that God answered his prayer. Think of all the people who were praying for loved ones with COVID to live but they died. Consider families who prayed for a miracle but ended up losing their homes and who did not get something better or double but are now struggling. Walking by faith is not about always getting your way and it's dangerous to lie when you don't. Accepting that prayer was not answered is a sign of maturity. Lying to people that He is always on time gives false hope of His giving them their every desire. There have been a number of celebrities who had worldwide prayer for them but they passed away. Instead of admitting that God moved in a different direction the catch phrase becomes "No more pain, no more suffering." As I have indicated in other articles we do not pray for someone to go to heaven. We pray for them to be healed in the land of the living. All believers should have testimonies where the Lord did come right on time because this boosts our faith. To say that He is always on time is not only a false statement, there is nothing in the Bible that backs it up.
I know of a number of ministries where the pastors said God told them they were going to grow and have a lot of members. These churches had intercessory prayer teams praying for every need to be met and for the Lord to send the people. In each case, the doors were shut because they did not have enough members and therefore did not have the money to stay afloat. Instead of being honest, these preachers blamed the congregants or said God told them to shut the doors because the people did not do what they were supposed to. If you pay attention to what is being prayed for and you look at the results you can see whether God answered the prayer or not. My husband was once told he would need a pacemaker and we prayed he would not and he did not. This is an example of answered prayer. If he had been given the pacemaker then God would not have answered the prayer and we would have been wrong to spin it and say the pacemaker was the answer. My grandmother had stomach cancer and after we prayed it disappeared. This is an example of answered prayer. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and died 5 weeks later so the prayer was not answered. The Lord came through on time to spare my grandma but not my mother and it really is that simple.
God is sovereign which means He has all authority and control. Scripture never promises that He operates like a Genie and grants our every wish. When He does move in our favor we should give the testimonies but when He does not we are not required to lie and imply that He did answer our prayer. If believers were taught by spiritual leadership to be honest instead of repeating slogans, catchphrases, and song lyrics things would be different. On the one hand, we say "Not my will but Thine be done" which indicates that His will is not necessarily what we desire. On the other hand, we say "Won't he do it" He always comes through and He's always on time. It's true that for some they may later get a better job, a spouse, or that house they dreamed of but this is not accurate for all Christians. Martha told Jesus that had He come earlier her brother would not have died. The Savior raised Lazarus from the dead so in that case, you can say that He did not come when Martha wanted but He was on time. We know we will see all our deceased saved loved ones when he returns but: If you prayed for them to recover from an illness and they died, seeing them in eternity is not the answer to the prayer but the blessed Hope of faith in Christ that's promised to us all.Be honest with yourself today even if no one else and simply admit that you had prayers that were not answered, it really is OK.
The Lord is always on time regarding His agenda because the Bible tells us that in the fullness. of time Jesus came. He will be on time when Christ returns because this is His plan. We get in trouble when we falsely claim that He is answering every prayer and always on time for our personal agendas. Humans make choices that do not always line up with what the Lord is doing and are being taught that it is spiritual to say He is doing something in their lives even when He is not. We walk by faith and trust Him even when we don't understand. It's time to stop lying on the Lord in order to appear spiritual or impress church leadership. My oldest son has a test he needs to pass in order to be certified as a special education teacher. We have prayed diligently and he has taken it but missed passing by 4 or 5 points on 6 occasions. Should he eventually pass we can say that God did not come when we wanted the prayer was answered. Should my son not take the test again or take it and fail, the song based slogan will not apply.
© 2021 Cheryl E Preston
Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on June 08, 2021:
Yes, that's exactly it. I am so glad you have the proper understanding and thanks for reading.
Readmikenow on June 08, 2021:
This is a good article.
I have been taught to think of praying to God as a child asking a parent for something. If you don't get it, there may be a bigger reason you aren't yet able to understand.
There are times when it is better for your parent to not save you, but let you experience a difficult situation on your own. This way you learn, grow and mature from it. This difficult experience may make you strong enough to handle other challenges that will come to you during your life. Challenges you may not have been able to endure should you not have faced a difficult situation on your own.
A minister once told me that we should ask ourselves what we have learned from our trying times and realize how we have benefited from it.
It can be a struggle, but I have learned quite a bit about myself and God's plan for me thinking of my life's challenges in this way.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 07, 2021:
Our prayers are not always answered, as you wrote. We may find out the reasons in our next life why some people have to suffer so much in this one. "Thy will be done" is a part of the Lord's Prayer.
OLUSEGUN from NIGERIA on June 07, 2021:
Good one. We need to keep growing to his full stature. The disciples experienced the storm before his (Jesus) arrival, viewing it from what happened in the book of Jonah, the disciples may have thrown things into the sea, which means they have lost some things. However, when he arrived, he showed them faith in a new dimension. Some of those experiences were designed by God to show us new things that we may have been ignoring over the years...
I enjoyed this.
Continue to stay safe.
Warmest love to the brethren there.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 07, 2021:
This is a good article about the way God's word is distorted. I guess we will not know the whole story until we reach Heaven. Some prayers are answered, but not all. You make several good points in this article, Cheryl.
Margaret Minnicks from Richmond, VA on June 07, 2021:
Cheryl, you are right! That saying is not in the Bible along with many others things people claim are in the Word of God. That needs to be brought to many people's attention along with other sayings.
mabelhenry from Harrisburlg, Pennsylvania on June 07, 2021:
Good morning, Cheryl. I greet you to say you are and have kept this point real,. "It's time to stop lying on the Lord in order to appear spiritual or impress church leadership." It is time to be honest with our selves first and foremost. If I lie to myself, how do I tell the truth to anyone else? It is time for deep cleansing repentance. We have learned to open every application except repentance when we err and not to always reach for forgiveness of error but, correction from further error. The spelling of the word believe is a mystery, it is wrapped in un-repentance the prefix suggest to be lie is believing helping or hurting, if the conscience is seared to utter lies. I repent over unanswered prayer today, that I may understand the correct way to approach prayer and not be a preyer instead. Thank you for sharing.