by T. Carlton Richardson

The "TARRY" Principle of Unanswered Prayer
Dr. T. Carlton Richardson

Summary: As we minister to others through prayer we will be constantly faced with the question of unanswered prayer and what our counsel should be to others (and ourselves) when this occurs. In this 'message of hope' we look at (1) the reason why God delays in answering our prayers and (2) the way we are to cope during this period of delay. God delays answering our prayers at times to test our faithfulness towards Him. And we cope during the period of delay by waiting on God or by practicing what might be called, from the Book of Habakkuk, 'The Tarry Principle.'

"Then the Lord said to me, ... these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked; but the righteous will live by their faith." (Hab. 2:3-4 NIV)

I. Introduction

We pray with the knowledge and belief that God answers prayer. The promise of answered prayer is the main reason why most of us pray. As serious students of the principles and practices of prayer we constantly ask: "Lord, teach us to pray!" And as we study, practice and observe the power of prayer, we begin to understand that the real purpose of prayer is to come to "know God" (see Job 42:5), this spiritual being: "Our Father".

As we become mature Christians our prayers should become less material, i.e. "give us our daily bread" or the supplying of our human needs or wants, and more spiritual, i.e. that "God's will be done" or that our spiritual needs be met by strengthening our spiritual "fruit". For "(w)hen the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control". (Gal. 5:22)

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