The car slows as it pulls up to the brightly lit display board. The driver rolls down her window. A voice comes out of the speaker next to her car, asking, “Can I take your order?” She orders her favorite items and within seconds is handed a paper sack as she drives on to her next destination. Instant meal with minimal effort.
If it feels like God just isn’t answering your prayer, take a look at your expectations on your timing versus His timing.
Most of us are familiar with the drive-thru food experience, but have you ever thought about how you and I can sometimes display a “drive-thru” attitude when it comes to faith?
Let me explain.
We desire to have a relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, regularly coming into contact with both through prayer. Part of that contact includes asking for our needs. He wants to hear about what we seek. It eases our minds. We read, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
God wants to give us good things. After all, God has shown that “He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9). We get spiritual and emotional nourishment from the things He gives us.
But our world is set up to provide constant sources of instant gratification (with fast food being one of many examples). We expect to travel halfway around the world in only a few hours. The Internet brings answers to many of our research questions in seconds. We can go to the nearest 24-hour store to buy what we need any time we want to. That can set us up for a mindset that carries over to other things in our lives where we cannot always expect instantaneous answers—drive-thru faith.
We can’t just pull up to the side of God’s throne and ask for whatever we want and have it delivered in a nice little package in minutes. I have to remind myself regularly that answered prayer is ultimately not up to me, it never has been, and it never will be.
Yes, while Jesus Christ was on the earth, He provided us with many examples of instantly healing people of their various spiritual and physical ills. But there are also many examples of how God chose to take His time in changing the troubling situations of individuals He was working with in order to work out a greater good for them and others—Joseph, Daniel, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, just to name a few. It’s tough to endure a difficulty and not want an instant out. I get it. I’ve been there many times.
During these times, we can cling to scriptures like Matthew 17:20 that says, “So Jesus said to them, ‘[…] assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.'" But where does He say that the mountain will move instantly?
We beat ourselves up that somehow we fall short in faith or our situation would change. Or we get angry that for some reason “God isn’t listening to us.” These can be valid reasons (Mark 9:24; Isaiah 59:2). But many times we simply forget that God’s answer to our prayers can be “no” or “not yet” because He has something better in mind for us than what we can even fathom right now.
If it feels like God just isn’t answering your prayer, take a look at your expectations on your timing versus His timing. Read verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and remember that God always has your best interest at heart because ultimately He wants you in His Kingdom.