Why does God seem to take forever in answering our prayers? We pray and we pray and we pray and we pray, but it's like He doesn't even hear us! Must be nice up in those clouds without a care in the world! Is God playing golf up there? Am I going to have to wait until He finishes a hole?! Gracious!
Ah yes, the question of all questions. We've all been here before, haven't we? Somewhere along the line, someone has told us that God hears our prayers and that if we have faith, He will answer them. Why then, does it take so long?
No, God is not playing golf with His buddies, Archangel Michael and Gabriel (though it would be a fun game to watch!), and He certainly has not forgotten you. He knows every hair on your head (Luke 12:7), and He cares about you tremendously, so much so that He gave His only Son for you (John 3:16)! When we pray, keep in mind that-
God's time is not our time
Have you ever delayed a conversation with your friend or significant other, because you knew that it was not a good time to bring it up at that very moment? Maybe you noticed that your friend was having a bad day, so you didn't feel like it was appropriate to talk about the $20 she owes you for babysitting her children last week. Have you ever waited on giving an amazing gift to your significant other, because you knew that the gift would have more meaning on a certain day like on your anniversary or his/her birthday?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are one step closer to understanding why God might delay or wait on answering your prayers. God knows you, and He knows when it is a good time or bad time to bring something up or answer a particular prayer of yours. Like the aforementioned examples, He may be waiting to answer your prayer when you will be more receptive to hearing His voice or when it will bear the most fruit. For now, we must trust in God's goodness and have faith in His glorious plan for us.
In Jeremiah 29:11, it is written, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope." God has not forgotten you! He has laid out a wondrous path for every one of us, and if we choose to follow it, it will bring us unimpeachable joy. We must, however, have patience and trust that God will answer our prayers at a time that is most fitting.
God will always give us what we need, not necessarily what we want
"What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Luke 11:11-13).
God loves you and wants what is best for you, just like any good father. If your 5 year old daughter asked if you could buy her ice cream and candy every day, I'm sure you would probably say no. With tears, she may ask you, "But why?!!!" From which point, you may try to explain how eating ice cream and candy every day would not be good for her and could even make her sick!
Some of our prayers are not answered for exactly that same reason- it simply wouldn't be good for us or at least, not at that very moment.
Many of our prayers are answered, but we are too busy or focused on other things to realize it!
Other prayers are answered, but not in the way we expect. For instance, one might be praying to win the lottery to support his family, but instead, God answers his prayer by giving him a job.
Whatever our prayer may be, God hears them, and we are called to have faith that He truly is a good father who grants or denies our requests according to what is in our best interest.
Waiting can be a time of great spiritual growth if we allow it to be
Although many of us find the waiting time frustrating and pointless, this period of waiting can help us mature in our faith and grow in virtue. Use this time to draw closer to God by entering more deeply into prayer. When you become frustrated, ask God what He may be calling you do at this very moment and then, listen. Open the Bible, and pay attention to what He may be trying to tell you. Continue the conversation with Him especially during times of great anxiety and unrest, and before you know it, He may have already answered your prayer!
May this time of waiting be fruitful and full of hope, and may we trust that God is our good Father who desires what is best for us!