On the day I called, You answered me. (Psalm 138:3)
In this psalm, the David gives praise to the LORD for His lovingkindness and loyalty — God has kept His word. And now he gives his reason: “On the day I called, You answered me.”
Many Christians, when they pray, usually wait to see if God has answered their prayer. That is, they are not willing to believe it until they see it, and when they see it, then they will believe it. Of course, there can be some time between when we pray and when we see the answer, between “Amen” and “There it is!” But if we are not willing to believe it until we see it, then that time becomes a matter if instead of when.
However, the Bible teaches us something different about prayer. Look at a couple examples from the book of Daniel. In chapter 9, Daniel called on the Lord, and even while he was yet praying, the answer came in the form of an angel: “O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. At the beginning of your supplication the command went out, and I have come to tell you” (Daniel 9:22-23). Daniel prayed and the answer came right away. But watch what happened on another occasion, in chapter 10. Daniel set his heart to understand something, and during that time he fasted from wine and meat and “pleasant food.” He did this for three weeks, then he had a vision and the hand of an angel suddenly touched him.
“Do not fear, Daniel,” the angel said, “for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael one of the chief princes, came to help me” (Daniel 10:12-13).
Now, notice that in both cases, Daniel’s prayer was answered right from the beginning. In the first instance, the answer showed up immediately, but in the second, the answer did not appear for 21 days. Even so, in both cases, God answered on the day Daniel prayed.
God’s timing is not always our timing, not just because He is eternal while we are finite, but because He sees the “bigger picture” and knows the right time. In the New Testament, there are two different Greek words that are used in regard to time. One is chronos, which speaks of clock or calendar time. The other is kairos, a word that signifies a poignant, purposeful time. God works according to kairos time, the appropriate and propitious time. So, when we pray, God hears and answers us that very day. The answer may come immediately, or it may take a while before it shows up — but it will always come at the right time.
On the day we pray, God answers us. That is what Jesus taught. He said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Notice the tense here: “believe that you receive them.” The NASB says, “believe that you have received them.” In other words, we receive the answer at the time we pray. Where I come from, when you have received something from someone, you thank them. So, when we have prayed in faith, that is the appropriate time to say, “Thank You, Lord,” knowing that we have received what we have asked.
That is what the dynamic of faith adds to our prayer. We do not have to wait to see the answer in order to know that we have the answer. We do not see so that we may believe, we believe so that we may see. God hears and answers our prayers on the day we pray them, and if we believe that when we pray, we will surely see it come to pass.