It’s Not Just Yes, No, or Wait

Have you ever wrestled with the idea of prayer? Does God really care about my prayers? Does God intervene in this life because of my prayers?

If you ever voiced this thought out loud you probably at least once have received this answer in return. God answers prayer in three ways: yes, no, or wait. If God says yes, you get whatever you were praying for. If God says no, then you don’t. If God says wait, then you keep praying for your desired outcome, knowing that God’s timing is different than your own.

God’s timing is different than my own. Time is a part of everything. But the problem with this “Christian answer” is that it covers every possible outcome. Things either happen now, later or not at all. There is no other possibility. So how can you be confident that prayer works if there is no scenario that could prove that it does not work?

Hmmmmm. Does that make you a bit uncomfortable? How do you trust God when this answer doesn’t make sense.

Yet I’m confident that prayer does work because I know know know that this God of Maybe is for me. My time in this relationship with God, my high and low adventure of a life has taught me how personal God is for me.

I’m not stupid for believing this. You can’t tell me anything differently because I know this. I have grown to trust the Promiser even when my prayers and cries are desperate and I don’t see how God can redeem anything from the painful mess. I know this as I also know I’m not guaranteed the outcome that I want.

Maybe this is because my brain has been changed that much. Science would tell me yes. But I believe this is also because I understand that God is for me.

Maybe because of the longevity of my faith relationship (40 years this October). Maybe because that salvation experience was so real I have never chosen a safe faith. Something early on bravely taught me to trust the Promiser. I have filled in the gap of God’s silence with this truth.

So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20b

When we are in need and we pray desperate prayers because the truth is we need a desperate solution, yet in that desperate emotional state it seems like God is doing nothing, our mind will fill in the gap as to why. To fill in the gap our brain automatically will choose either trust or suspicion. We can choose to trust and wait it through. Or we can choose to be suspicious and that leads to so many other behaviors. Raise your hand if you’ve ever done any of these behaviors:

Gotten angry with God
Cursed at God
Tried to fix the situation in your own power
Told God since you weren’t going to do anything, I am going to fix this in my own power.
Made a decision that God is not for you, and never has been for you.
Numbed yourself with a negative behavior. You chose this negative behavior because you couldn’t stand the doubts that being in this gap filled you with.

Ugh, right? It does take bravery to trust the Promiser. What an adventure your life becomes! It means believing in the character of God even more than you believe in your desired outcome.

It is the people who really trust God who can vent their anger at him.

It is the people who really trust God who know even in the darkness that God is personal.

So I continue to pray to the God of Maybe. I continue this gutty and faithful relationship because I trust the Promiser. Even more so, I truly believe something beautiful will eventually happen even as I know it will not be on my time table.

p.s. Bonus thought for parents of prodigals. This is my heart’s mess right now.

The Second Great Awakening preacher Charles Finney had children who were prodigals. His concern for his own children while in the midst of great ministry shows that prayer is no formula or guarantee. He prayed heart-achingly so for his children to come to faith. He was public about this. Then he died without ever seeing the results of his prayers. Eventually all of his children did come to their own faith—through not during his lifetime. Charles Finney many prayers were answered though he never knew it this side of heaven. But they were answered. That does give me a little bit of comfort. A little bit. I’m still this side of heaven praying and waiting.

(photo credit:, Min An)

Read the book

A small book about being the people that hurting people need.

“This is the book that I wish I had had for people in my life that have suffered and needed me to be that compassionate friend. This is the book that I wish others in my life had read before they dismissed my pain, or compared it to theirs, or stumbled horribly through trying to lessen my pain because it was actually really about THEM not feeling comfortable with it.”

Order here: