There is a prayer I have been praying for many years, decades even, and it hasn't been answered yet. Well, it hasn't been answered with a yes anyway. Now I was brought up to be unselfish, to not keep asking for what I want, to take no for an answer. But because of the story of the persistent widow, (Luke 18:1-8) I feel I should keep asking.
Over the years I've tried to reconcile that parable with my upbringing. Whereas it is not okay to ask your parents for the same thing over and over again, it is okay to ask God. Not only is it okay, but He invites it; He recommends it. And frankly, this is the kind of prayer that He wants to say yes to, but He has also granted the members of the human race the right to make their own decisions.
So I've been wondering lately: what value is there in my continuing to pray? God already knows my request. He knows the desires of my heart. Will my prayers change anything? The story of the persistent widow tells me they will. But maybe the subject of my prayers is not the only thing that will change.
Yesterday I read Proverbs 17:3. Perhaps, God is working on changing me through this process too. This proverb talks about refining precious metals by heating them up and removing the impurities. God purifies us through the tests we endure. Similarly, James 1:2-4 says that we become perfect by going through trials. It’s not instantaneous. It takes time, and I’m guessing that, at least where people are concerned, some impurities take more time than others. Sometimes we have to work through anger, resentment, unforgiveness. The harder we hold on to something, the longer it will take. Sometimes we have to realize that God may be doing something that we don’t understand. Just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t for the best.
Thinking through this brought to mind the words of a worship song by Brian Doerksen: "Refiner’s fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy." It’s possible you have sung that song yourself. I hope you meant it, because it is inviting God to bring the heat of trials into your life. We will be better for them in the end, but it could be a little uncomfortable along the way. Be encouraged though; God does this because He loves us, and because He wants what is best for us. (Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:6)