One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “Why hasn’t God answered my prayers?”
Often, it’s not difficult to understand. Prayer requests are made that are clearly outside of God’s revealed will. Other times, it’s apparent that personal agendas or selfish ambitions are driving the prayer request. Some requests are impertinent, impetuous, unwise and occasionally coupled with impatience and a lack of faith.
Some prayer requests, however, are earnest, faithful, selfless, presented reverently and waited for patiently. It’s difficult to understand why those remain unanswered.
I encourage these people to remember that God loves them, to continue to pray and trust in God. It’s at those times that stories like the one following are most inspirational.
A congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Shortly before the new church was to open, the building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building.
He said that unless they doubled the parking-lot size, they wouldn’t be able to meet in the new facility.
The church had already used all its financial resources. The only land the church had left to develop for parking was the huge foothill to the mountains directly behind the building. In order to provide more parking, the church would literally have to move a mountain!
The pastor announced on Sunday morning that he would like to meet that evening, with all members and adherents who possessed “mountain-moving faith.”
He quoted Matthew 17:20 and explained that they were going to ask God to remove the mountain and to provide finances for a paved parking lot before the building inspector’s deadline.
At 7 p.m., 24 of the church’s 300 attendees gathered to pray. They prayed for three hours. At 10 p.m., the pastor said the final “Amen.” He boldly proclaimed, “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time, too.”
The next morning, the pastor was working in his study. He answered a knock on the door to find a construction foreman, hardhat in hand, asking if he could come in. The foreman explained that he was supervising the building of a new shopping mall in the next county and they needed rock and earth to finish the sub-grade.
He inquired, “Would you sell the mountain behind the church?” He explained that they would remove and pay for all the dirt and rock and pave the exposed area free of charge, “but only if we can do it right away!”
“Jesus told his disciples … about their need to pray all the time and never give up.” (Luke 18:1)
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.