Young families in a suburb of North Carolina started a church; and after two years, it was just exploding. They had to move into a bigger building, but after a bit, an adult bookstore bought the building across from them. So now this church was sharing a parking lot with an adult bookstore. They tried to fight it. They sent letters to the mayor, stood before the city council, petitioned for the bookstore to be moved. Nothing worked.
The church called for 21 days of prayer and fasting. Isn’t it funny that we tend to pray last? As they prayed, around day 14, a giant thunderstorm hit the community. Lightning struck the adult bookstore, and it burned to the ground.
The bookstore sued the church, saying, “We want you to pay for the lost wages and the building because your prayer meeting burned our business down.” The church protested, “It’s not our fault. It was a thunderstorm, and we’re not paying for anything.” My favorite part of this, though, was when the judge stood up and said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. We have an adult bookstore that believes in prayer and a church that doesn’t.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if God always answered prayer that fast? The thing is that he sometimes does, but sometimes he doesn’t. He doesn’t work on our schedule, so then we start to think that he doesn’t answer prayer.
Maybe you’re in a desperate position right now financially, or your marriage is struggling, or serious health issues are on the table. It would be amazing if you prayed, then your answer was waiting for you as soon as you turned around! How many of you know, though, that it doesn’t usually happen that way? Lightning doesn’t strike the buildings — or people — we pray about, and God doesn’t immediately heal or move. There’s a reason for this. When our prayers don’t get answered quickly, we have to trust God and God’s plans for us.
The Bible says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV). How many of us really believe this? How many of us are willing to wait to see God move?