It is commonly considered that prayer falls into one of two categories – those prayers that are in accordance with God’s will and those prayers that are not. However, it seems that the Psalmist here is suggesting a third category. He tells us that there may be those prayers that are not in accordance with God’s will…today. Evidently there is an acceptable time in which certain prayers may be answered, because obviously he is not suggesting that there is an “acceptable time” for us to pray. The Scripture makes it clear that our Father loves to hear His children pray even when it is not a prayer that He can respond to positively. You see, the limitation isn’t on the prayers that we prayer, but on the answers He gives.
So many times we ask of our Father things that are in keeping with His will, but which we are not yet ready to receive. I remember asking my father for a pocketknife when I was a young boy. There’s nothing wrong with a pocketknife. A pocketknife is something that any father would certainly want his boy to have. After all, a knife is a very useful thing. It can be used to cut rope, whittle sticks and carve initials into trees. Looking back, however, I realize that at the time it was more likely that I would have cut my finger than the rope or the stick. That’s why, even though I asked for something correctly, something that was in accordance with my father’s will, he thought it best to postpone allowing me to have a pocketknife until I was ready to receive it.
In a similar way, I believe that many times our Heavenly Father receives our prayers, but wisely, lovingly, postpones the answer. Instead, He puts them in Heaven’s treasure room and waits for the time when they will not be a danger or distraction to us. Then, at the acceptable time, He blesses us with His positive answer. It’s like a man asking in springtime for God to give him fruit that will not be ripe until summer. One of the most tremendous truths to comprehend, yet difficult to accept, as a child of God is that I am an heir to a kingdom that far surpasses my current holdings – and my current ability to handle it. That’s why I have to learn to wait patiently, confidently, for the blessings of summer.
Have you ever stopped to thank God for delayed blessings? If you’re like me, most likely you haven’t. Too many times we’re like the Prodigal Son in that we want our part of the inheritance NOW; and when God doesn’t give it immediately we think that He’s said, “No.” This is when we need to learn the beauty of delayed blessings.
Many times as a young man I prayed that the Lord would lead me beside those still waters that David sung about, and allow me to lie down in His green pastures. But, more often than not I then found myself having to walk a rough, rocky road only to be caught in one of life’s storms. I remember thinking during those hard days that the Lord really wasn’t being very good to me. That’s when I began to learn that what I’d asked for wasn’t rejected – it was just delayed.
You see, we don’t need green pastures and still waters when we are young. We need hard, rocky roads and rough paths! When we are young we don’t need to be able to lie down in peaceful pastures. We need to be made to get up and work hard!
There is coming an acceptable time for our prayers for pastures and still waters to be answered, but it most likely won’t be in the morning of our life. It will likely be in the afternoon. When we are tired from the toil, and beat from the heat of the day, then it will be the acceptable time for the Father to bless us with His gracious – if even delayed – blessings.