"This is how the birth of Jesus came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly." Matthew 1:18-19
This is what Joseph was considering before an angel appeared to him in a dream. Joseph was afraid for how Mary would have been treated in her first century Jewish society. His duty as a God-fearing, Jewish man under the Law of Moses was to "expose her to public disgrace" since she was technically already married to him through the custom of betrothal; but, she was pregnant with someone else's child. Thankfully, an angel sent by God Himself intervened to explain to Joseph that this was God's plan for Joseph to follow, however difficult it might have been to fully understand.
It was great for Joseph to hear from God through one of His angels, but what about us? How does God speak to us, especially when we have decisions to make?
The best answer I know is in a variety of ways and that no two prayers are answered in the same way or time frame. Answers to prayers range from instantaneous and complete to those that are still not answered to this day and are therefore incomplete. For instance, I have prayed for parking spaces when I have been late for a class in college and voila someone pulls out of their space. On the other hand, Meredith and I prayed for many years to have a child and that took a lot longer to be answered.
I'm not sure why this is. But the prayers that take the longest to be answered seem to be the ones that mature us the most.
It can be frustrating and challenging, depressing and lonely when you are waiting for God to answer your prayer... just ask King David...
"How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?" Psalm 13:1
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent." Psalm 22:1-2
A common thread I have found in reading the different books of the Bible is that God is very interested in helping His people to mature in their belief in Him and in His ability to help them. That thread is what keeps me praying even when God remains silent. I believe God wants what is best for me, and I believe He knows what is best for me. So even when a prayer remains unanswered I believe I'm just not ready for the answer. So I ask God to make me ready. Unfortunately, the process of maturity takes time and it takes waiting. And it is difficult for any of us to wait on anything.
If you are struggling with a prayer that has not been answered yet... don't give up on praying about it. Continually hand it over to God. Then, start reading through the Book of Psalms. But don't read haphazardly. Start searching for specific psalms that empathize with or communicate your desire to desperately hear from God. Let those words, from real people like David, remind you that you are not alone, and you are not the first person to have had to wait on God to answer your prayer. Then, watch and expect that God will reward your faithfulness for continually seeking His help, and He will mature you through the process of waiting on Him.
As David said in Psalm 22:4-5, "In you [LORD] our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried out to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed."
Watching expectantly for God with you,