Somewhere towards the end of his life, David inserted Psalm 61 into his “song book.” In addition to the words, he included some notes for the director and gave some direction to the stringed instruments.
But the part that caught my eye was the direct appeal to God. David lets the Lord know that he has been asking for a while. His heart is growing faint. He needs to hear from heaven and he needs to hear the answers NOW. “Hear my cry, oh Lord. Listen to my prayer.” It is as if David is saying, “I am waiting to hear your answer. What do you say?”
Ann Lewis took a stab at answering that question. She is quoted as saying that “There are four ways God answers prayer: No, not yet; No, I love you too much; Yes, I thought you’d never ask; and Yes, and here’s more.”
Theologically, I am not asserting that there are only four ways God responds to His kids, but I am intrigued by these four kinds of responses. When you and I pray, sometimes the Lord says “no” but it is a “no” associated with the timing of the request. If we are a kid and praying to be able to drive our parent’s car, God will very likely delay His blessing. We will pass our drivers test, but not at the age of six.
Sometimes the Lord answers “no” because in His loving sovereignty, He knows that the request isn’t good for us. We may want it. It may look great from our vantage point, but from His perspective, it has to be a firm “no.” Like a loving parent, Christ cares enough to say “no” when the request just isn’t in our best interest.
Other times we cry out to God and His response is a quick “Absolutely! I was just waiting to hear from you so I could bless you in this way.” It is almost as if He is saying, “You and I just need to be communicating more often. Let’s talk regularly. Let’s share more openly. I am committed to blessing you regularly.”
We might be thinking of that verse in Matthew 7 where we are told to “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find…”
And then there is that fourth way He answers our plea. Sometimes, He says “Yes and Yes and Yes.” It is as if He was saying “I have been wanting to ‘…open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” (Mal. 3:10)
It is important note though that the immediate context for this verse in Malachi has to do with us being generous givers first. But the principle remains. God is a generous heavenly Father who loves his kids and loves to bless them.
So, the bottom line this week is PRAY. Pray Often. Pray fervently. Talk to your heavenly Father and expect Him to answer. He will!