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Keep Praying & Working For Good

Have you ever felt like God didn’t answer or hear your prayers? Have you prayed and gotten no answer? Are you praying and have been praying but feel like it isn’t working? This is a common feeling; God’s people have always wrestled with prayer! David (who wrote most of the Psalms) felt this way when he prayed in Psalm 55.1 (MSG), “Open your ears, God, to my prayer; don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.”

The truth is that God hears our prayers and they make a difference, or will eventually. David described his prayer life as a continual struggle in Psalm 56:8 (NRSV), “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?” He writes this psalm in the midst of a long struggle but he is confident that God's keeping track. David knows that God is on our side and working for our good.

God is able to take our problems and pain, our tossings and our tears, our worries and regrets, and transform them into something good. It’s important to remember this before a struggle because during a struggle it’s difficult to see God at work. Unfortunately we can usually only see God’s work when we look back after the struggle is over. There may even be some things in that we will only see clearly when we get to heaven.

In heaven we know that all will be made right. Revelation gives us a preview of this when it describes our prayers being collected like incense in the throne room of God (Revelation 5:8). This incense isn’t just for decoration, it's for justice. In a few chapters these prayers are ignited with God’s power and thrown to the earth. All of the prayers for justice and healing that went unanswered finally are answered in Revelation 8. God uses them to prepare the way for a new heaven and new earth - one without any evil, sickness, pain, death, or crying.

God is more powerful than our problems and one day he will make everything right. This may seem like little consolation when you go through the dark times, but it's something to hold onto. During times of trial when you can’t trust God’s actions, trust his character. If you can’t see God in your future, look back and see how he’s worked in your past. If your heart can’t trust God then let your mind continually dwell on the truth that God is more powerful than your problems.

While we wait for these answers let us work for the good for which we pray. Ronald Rolheiser in The Holy Longing writes...
When we pray “through Christ” more is involved than merely asking God in heaven to make some kind of intervention.  The community too, and we ourselves, must be involved not just in the petition but also in trying to bring about what the petition pleads for.  Hence…if my mother is sick and I pray that she gets better, but do not drive her to see the doctor, I have prayed as a theist, not as a Christian.  I have not given any incarnational flesh, skin, to my prayer.  It is more difficult for God to answer such a prayer. 
We can’t just sit around and hope God will do something when he has already commissioned us to be his hands and feet in the world! We are the answer to some of our own prayers. When the times seem the most dark let us pray for light to do the work God has for us and so reflect his light to a watching world. A world that is watching and waiting for God to act.