Nobody likes to be ignored. In fact, when people ignore us we get angry or we walk away. As God’s children, though, we need to realize that God never ignores us.
Think about the last time you asked somebody for something. Maybe you asked your spouse for a night out or your parents for a birthday gift or your boss for a raise. What spectrum of answers might you expect? Yes, no, or not right now.
God answers us with those same responses. When you think about it, unanswered prayers are really God saying “no” or “not right now.”
A pastor friend of mine shared a story with me several years ago about this issue. It didn’t originate with him. I found a link to it here.
This is my summarized version:
A man felt useless and aimless, so he asked the Lord to give him purpose. The Lord took him up into the mountains and showed him an enormous boulder.
“I want you to come up here every day and push this boulder,” the Lord told him.
The man agreed. The next day, he headed up the mountain and spent the day pushing against the boulder. The sun beat down on him. Sweat poured off his brow. When the sun started to set, he headed back home.
The man continued pushing the boulder every day. Gone was his sense of futility. He had a purpose. He knew he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do. Rain drenched him. Snow covered him. He continued undeterred.
After many months, the man studied the boulder at the end of another hard day pushing on it. He couldn’t see that it had budged even a little bit. With his head hung low, he walked home.
That night, he asked the Lord if he should keep pushing on the boulder. “I don’t seem to be having any effect on it,” he said. The Lord assured him that he was right where he needed to be, doing exactly what he should.
A week later, the Lord showed up at the man’s home. The man was covered in sweat and grime from a hard day of pushing on the boulder.
He invited the Lord in, but he didn’t feel like visiting. His muscles ached. He had slid down the path on the way home and had a huge cut on the back of his thigh. Worst of all, the boulder hadn’t moved a single centimeter.
“Do you remember how it was before you started with the boulder?” the Lord asked.
Oh, yes, the man remembered how useless he felt. Today, he felt almost that useless when he saw the boulder still hadn’t moved.
“You’re upset because the boulder is unmoved,” the Lord said. After the man nodded, the Lord said, “I remember when you asked me for a purpose. You were skinny, scrawny, puny and so unconditioned that you could hardly walk up the mountain. Have you looked in the mirror lately?”
The man shook his head. A full-length mirror appeared and the man was shocked when he saw his reflection. His arms were corded with muscles. His thighs bulged with strength.
“But the boulder hasn’t moved,” he said.
“I didn’t ask you to push the boulder in order to move it,” the Lord told him. “I knew if you pushed it every day, you would grow strong, well-conditioned and able to complete any task.”
So the next time you pray and nothing happens, remember to keep P.U.S.Hing. Prayer is changing you, and that is exactly what the Lord desires.
Pray Until Something Happens. But remember, effective prayer is prayer that changes you.