I find it difficult to pray for the same thing over and over when it appears nothing is happening. Delay dampens the spirit’s fervor. Colors fade. Energy erodes.
I wonder if that was going on for Zechariah and Elizabeth (see Luke 1). They had prayed many years for a child. Many years.
Many years and no child.
Now Zechariah is chosen by lot to fulfill special priestly duties in the temple. The people are praying outside and an angel appears to Zechariah inside. “Do not be afraid, for your prayer has been heard…” Years and years of prayer by a barren couple for a child, prayers that seemingly ricocheted around cosmos accomplishing nothing, were heard—and the answer was on the way.
“Your prayer has been heard.”
Why the delay?
The delay was to bless. The answer couldn’t come earlier and still bless them this big. Their child would be the forerunner of the Messiah: John the Baptist. Timing was the issue. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4).
Sometimes, our prayers are delayed by spiritual opposition. Daniel labored in prayer and fasting for twenty-one days. Intense prayer. Prayer-hitting-a-brick-wall prayer.
Then God sent word to him: I heard you from the the first word, the first sentence. “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words” (Daniel 10:12).
Many reasons for delays, I suppose. But I’m what I’m trying to hang on to is that He has heard me already and wants me to keep asking in faith. “And [Jesus] told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).