Waiting…when prayers seem unanswered – By Contributor Mama Allison

Sometimes prayers aren’t answered the way we want. Lately I’ve felt that almost all of my prayers have been answered with “wait”.

For the past few months I have been meeting with a group of friends and we have be discussing revelation, and obtaining personal revelation. Inspiration vs revelation has always been a little tricky for me to understand. I feel that inspiration happens quite frequently. The Lord nudges and the Spirit prompts. But to me revelation is weightier, heavier, more powerful. Inspiration is the “good idea”, revelation is the “commandment”. I think the Lord is slow to really give us revelation because then we are accountable for how we acted upon it.

During this meeting one of the girls, turned to everyone (well we meet on-line, so looked at us via a computer screen) and told us how she just kept getting revelation. She went on about how every time she goes to the temple she is surprised and giddy about how the Spirit keeps prompting her and answering her questions. I sat there and thought “why am I not getting answered!!!” I’ve been praying, fasting, attending the Temple and yet no answers come. And then I realized, no that’s not true. I keep getting one answer…”wait”.

At the Mesa Temple last time I went, I ran into my favorite Institute teacher. I took a class (or two) from him every semester (I even went back the year after I graduated and still took classes from him). He is now in the Mesa Temple Presidency, and I haven’t seen him for over a dozen years. I was sure he gets stopped all the time by former students, whom he doesn’t remember, and so I as I saw him, I smiled and made to walk by. But he stopped me and said “I know you.” He remembered me and we chatted. He asked where we were living and I had that awkward moment where I wonder “how much do I tell him of our homeless home plight.” I quickly responded that we were living with my parents while we decided if we should build a home or not. His response was how he’s learned that often things can be right, but the timings not right…and that we have to learn to wait on the Lord.

There was that word again…WAIT.

I was telling my husband about my Temple experiences and he said it sound like you have your answer…wait.

But why?!?! Why do we have to wait. And so I turned to the scriptures looking for answers..and I found stories. So many stories about the Lord making people wait. Whether it was the Isrealites having to wait for 40 years in the wilderness because out of fear they weren’t ready/ willing to receive what the Lord offered.

Or the story of Hagar and Ishmael. Where the Lord waits until they are dying in the desert because there is no water, and the Lord wants/needs Hagar to know that “God Hears”. And only after she is willing to submit humbling to the Lord does He hear her prayer and show them the well.

Or Alma the Younger who “for three days and for three nights was..racked, even with the pains of a damned soul…in the gall of bitterness…encircled about by the everlasting chains of death” (Alma 36) The Lord let him wait until He prayed to be saved. But maybe for him that hell was what was required for him to change, it just got all crammed into one moment.

Or the widow Zarephath, the Lord waited to answer her prayer (because I am sure she was praying for help – they were starving to death!!!), and it wasn’t until the very end that help was sent. “I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

But one of my favorite examples (can you/should you have a favorite example of waiting!!), is of God hearing and waiting in the New Testament. The story is found in Mark 6. It occurs after the miracle where the Lord feeds the 5,000 people on 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. The Lord sends his apostles in a ship and tells them he will meet them later. So they get in the boat in early evening and row. And a storm comes. They toil “in rowing, for the wind was contrary unto them.” They rowed all night long in a terrible storm. And then in the early morning hours of the 4th watch, (between 3-6a) Christ comes to them and “then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”

They had to wait hours, and hours in a terrible storm, fighting for their lives. But this is the verse that struck me, it says in Mark 6 “the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he [Christ] alone on the land. And he SAW them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them.” Christ was aware of their needs, though they felt alone, they were never alone. President Monson said, “There will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone…I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you. (GC, 10/13)

Even if we toil all night, he is aware and watches us, and will come to us when the time is right. I’m not sure why the apostles needed to wait. But like Nephi “I know that he liveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all thing.” (1 Nephi 11:17)

I love that last part, that after the toiling all night, after the tears and hardwork, the struggles and fears, Christ came unto them and “they willingly received him” and then “immediately they ship was at the land”. Christ knew of their struggle. He “SAW them toiling in rowing” and yet He waited. He waited because they needed Him to wait, because their faith was strengthened by His waiting.

Maybe sometimes we struggle and the Lord waits to answer our prayers because we need to learn to rely more on the Lord in faith. I believe that He hears our prayers and our pleading, that He is aware of our struggle, and that He will answer someday.

And so I wait…because the Lord in His wisdom knows that I must wait. But He will come in D&C 88:58 it says He will come to “every man in his hour, and in his time, and in his season”. “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.” (D&C 84:88)

Though it may feel like we are alone, we aren’t, He knows and loves us.


1 Comment

  1. Michelle Olsen

    This is so great, my favorite part was “then they willingly received Him into the ship”. I can’t help but wonder if their waiting had anything to do with how willingly they received Him. Thanks for sharing.


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