I truly believe that God answers all our prayers, although as I noted to a fellow blogger recently sometimes the answer is “no” or “not yet.” It is those times when the answer is “not yet” that we can sometimes fail to realize when the prayer has ultimately been answered with “okay, now.” Then we fail to give God credit for the answered prayer because sometimes we forgot we prayed for that answer in the first place.
That is where a prayer journal comes in handy. I started keeping a prayer journal back in 2002, though I confess I haven’t written anything in it for a while. The great thing about my prayer journal was the ability to reread the prayers I had written and see how they had been answered.
One prayer in particular was one that was repeated numerous times in my journal when I was working at my previous job. The job started out great, but somewhere along the way things had changed. I started to have a difficult time working with the owner of the business I worked for who was my boss. This was about the time I started writing my prayers in my journal.
The prayer I wrote several times went something like this:
Dear Lord, please help me find a new job because I am not happy with this one anymore, but if it is not your will or the right time for me to find a new job help me to adjust my attitude about my boss and be content here.
Then one day, two years after I first wrote that prayer, I found the posting for my current job. I happened to know the person who was leaving the job because she attended my church, so I called her to ask about it. I applied for the job (one of only 3 or 4 I applied for in that 2-year period), got an interview, got a call back interview, and ultimately got the job.
Much of what I went through in the last two years of my five years in my former job prepared me for what I have needed to do in my current job. As I look back at my prayer journal, and my fervent plea for a new job, I realize that God’s initial answer was “not yet.” The job He knew would be the right one for me wasn’t ready yet, and neither was I. Because that prayer is recorded in my prayer journal, with a date, I can easily look back and see God’s hand in answering that prayer and give Him credit where credit is due.
This morning I picked up my prayer journal just to read a few lines, and my eyes landed on a short prayer for my old dog Bette who is no longer with us. My prayer was that when it was her time to die she would not suffer a long, drawn out death. I had forgotten I ever prayed for that. But that prayer was answered, too.
Bette lived to be 18 years old. She was the sweetest old one-eyed cocker spaniel you could ever hope to meet. And she was quite healthy for a spaniel right up until the day I had to have her put to sleep because she had suddenly lost the use of her back legs and was clearly in pain. I remember the vet warning me that she might struggle when they injected her, but that did not happen. She immediately had a peaceful look on her face and I knew she was home and no longer in any pain or discomfort. I miss her still, but am thankful that my prayer for her final days was answered.
Many parts of the Bible, such as the Psalms and the Epistles, are like a prayer journal of God’s people. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:
He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:10-11.
This prayer journal of the apostle gives us hope and reminds us of God’s gracious favor upon His people. If you do not keep a prayer journal, I would encourage you to start. It is a great way to recognize answered prayers. I suspect that many of our prayers are answered long after we have forgotten we prayed them. Seeing the fruit of answered prayer gives hope of the answer to future prayers.