I remember, years ago, when one of my daughters wanted a new bicycle. There was only one problem - she was going through a period of time when she couldn't seem to stay out of trouble for 24 hours at a time! Not "big" trouble, mind you. Little things - like not doing her chores, leaving her homework till the very last minute, snapping at her sisters. The typical "little" things that kids do when they want to see just how far they can push it. She was becoming a world class pusher and she wasn't even 14 years old, yet.
She got it, somehow, into her mind that she deserved a new bicycle in spite of all of our, "Sweetie, you have to start trying harder..." talks. I kept telling her that until she pulled it all together, she'd be riding her old bike (which, to be honest, was a perfectly good bike) and that was that.
This all went on for several months. Several long months. Then, I started noticing little things. I homeschooled my girls and I noticed that she went from being the last one to complete an assignment to being the first. I also noticed that she was putting her all into her chores. She got to the point where she didn't just do her given chores, she actually looked around to see if anything else needed to be done. She was doing what was expected PLUS what wasn't.
Also, when she'd hang out with me in the kitchen, I noticed that she didn't JUST talk about the bike anymore. She talked about what I was cooking. When she crept up on me in the flower garden, she wasn't there just to make her case for the new bike, she was there to help pull weeds and talk about which flowers were the "coolest". When we went shopping, we got to see other things than just the bike aisle. It was so refreshing! I felt like I'd gone from being someone she just wanted something from to being someone she actually cared about talking to. We grew closer than ever.
Needless to say, she got her new bike. But more importantly, she got a new outlook for life. Her attitude changed and the transformation was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. When she first started asking, the answer was "No." She wasn't doing the things she should have been doing and she WAS doing things she shouldn't have been doing.
However, several months down the road, the answer became not just a "Yes" but an "Absolutely!"
This same illustration can serve us when we don't receive the answer to prayer that we're hoping for. Granted, sometimes the answer is NO followed promptly by a period. God sometimes tells us NO simply because He knows what's best for us. However, very often, just like my daughter with her bike, we aren't told "No," so much as we're told, "Not just yet." He wants us to get OUR acts together first and He knows that the chances of that happening are better if the reward doesn't come first.
If you have a certain prayer that hasn't been answered yet, I have a few things I want you to do.
First of all, write down any reasons you can think of that would cause God NOT to want to give you what you're asking for. Write down everything that comes to mind.
Second of all, go over what you've written down and determine to "fix" what needs to be taken care of. If there are "chores" you're slacking off on - start giving them your all. How are you treating others? Are you generous and compassionate? Don't just do what God would expect from you, go above and beyond. Then go further!
Third of all, have you allowed yourself to begin and end every prayer with "I need...," "I want...," or "Would you...?" Are your moments with God entirely about your needs and wants? If that's the case, I don't have to tell you how far you've gotten away from the real essence and beauty of prayer.
Lastly, concentrate more on becoming the person God would have you be more than you concentrate on what He can do for you. The Bible tells us that God loves us, even more than we love our own children. Amazing! I didn't even know a love like that existed. If we want to reward our children when we see them grow, imagine how God would want to reward His children.
And what rewards He has!!!
Of course, the greatest, sweetest, most genuinely beautiful reward of all is a closer relationship with God. I hope that's exactly the relationship you have, or will soon have. And I hope and pray that all of your prayers are just a day away.
As someone once said, "Self isn't something one finds, it's something one creates." Self Help Daily would love to help YOU create a masterpiece!