WHEN PRAYER IS UNANSWERED…

PSALMS 126:4: “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Is their something in your life that is unresolved? You are thankful for all the Lord has done in your life, yet there is still that unanswered prayer, that need that is yet to be met. You find yourself between the place of joy and continued sorrow. What should you do?

Psalms 126 was a song of ascent. The songs of ascent were a group of Psalms that were sung by those who had been scattered during the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities as they journeyed to Jerusalem for the key festivals of the year. Psalm 126 begins with praise and adoration for God’s provision in restoring the Jews to Jerusalem.

  • “When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion, We were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, And we are glad.” Psalms‬ ‭126:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The return of the Israelites to Jerusalem was nothing short of a miracle. The rebuilding of its walls and the temple were signs of God’s blessings and favor. Yet, Israel was still not the nation that God had established. Their sin and rebellion had left this once great nation as a splintered community scattered among the nations. As the Psalmist rejoices in what God has done, he also is filled with sorrow regarding what they had lost. And, so he prays,

  • “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.”

The streams in the South are called wadis. A wadi is a dry channel or stream bed in the desert that is dry and barren, except during the rainy season. In the rainy season the water that flows brings life to the barren desert. The Psalmist is yearning for God to bring back all that was lost during their captivity. He longs for the refreshing of God’s mercy and grace, as he finds himself on pilgrimage through the desert wasteland of his unfulfilled prayers and dreams.

Walking in the tension of joy and grief is a strange emotion. Yet, it is something that we all experience. It is a rare moment when we are enveloped by absolute joy. The normal course of life is one of tension. We rejoice in what God is doing, or has done. And, we carry a burden for what is yet to come to pass. We are assured of God’s faithfulness, at the same time wondering about His timing. We look over the barren wasteland of our unfulfilled prayers and we cry,

  • “Bring back our captivity, O LORD, As the streams in the South.”

What do we do when we find ourselves in the midst of the barren wasteland of unanswered prayer? How do we find the refreshing that is needed when it seems like all the streams in our life are dried up? The Psalmist pivots from these thoughts to the following words of hope.

  • “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalms‬ ‭126:5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When we find ourselves in the barren places of life, we create a river through our prayers and our tears. Although the wadis that we have depended upon are dry, we are not left without hope. Our Heavenly Father is watching over all of our prayers. He is gathering all of our tears in His bottle. He is protecting the precious seed of faith that we have been planting. And, He will faithfully water this seed and bring it to harvest in our lives!

When we find ourselves in a barren place, our human nature says to give up. Yet, faith calls us to press on, to keep sowing, and to water this seed with our heartfelt prayers. The only way we will miss His harvest for our lives is if we stop sowing and weeping!

  • “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians‬ ‭6:7-9‬ ‭NKJV

This is a sure and faithful promise from the Lord. God will not be mocked. If we sow in tears, we will reap in joy. If we sow in faith, we will reap in victory. If we sow to the Spirit, we will reap everlasting life. God will do this – “…in due season…if we do not lose heart!”

Each year, as the exiled Jews journeyed to Jerusalem, they rejoiced and wept. They worshipped and prayed. They sowed tears in the desert knowing that once again God would restore His nation and establish His rule through the Messiah. We have seen the firstfruits of this promise. And, we are looking forward to the fulfillment when Jesus returns.

As the disciples looked up into the heavens, wondering if they would ever see Jesus again, angels spoke words of promise to them.

  • “…Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

As sure as Jesus will return, God will fulfill His purpose in our lives. He will watch over the prayers that have been offered in tears, in the secret place of our heart. And, He will allow us to once again come with rejoicing, bringing in the harvest of His faithful mercy and care.

Lord, as I look over the wadis of my life, may I do so in hope. May I be found, empowered by Your grace, filled with Your faith, sowing and weeping, trusting and hoping, until the day that I that I return in joy, bringing in the harvest You have provided.

  • “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalms‬ ‭126:5-6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus Name!‬‬

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy to follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com. Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to rcoutreach@aol.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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