When our children were small, I taught them a practical lesson in prayer using what I called the “Secret Mailbox Club.” I made a mailbox out of construction paper and encouraged the children to write out their secret prayers on a piece of paper. We sealed them in an envelope, put the prayer requests in the mailbox and raised the flag.
“Now let’s go about our day, trusting God to answer our prayers in His time.” The children would be surprised to discover later that some of their prayers had been answered while they weren’t looking. I explained that our little mailbox game was similar to mailing a real letter. “When I put a letter in our mailbox, I’ve done my part, right?” “I have to trust the United States Postal Service to deliver my mail to the right place. So I raise the flag and walk away.” I added, “Wouldn’t it be silly for me to camp beside the mailbox anxiously waiting for the response to my letter?”
When we pray to God, we’ve done our part by giving Him our request. The Bible says it this way: Commit your way to the Lord; trust Him and He will do this (Psalm 37:5). “Genuine faith hands its circumstances over to God, allowing him to work. He will never work until we commit” (from Streams in the Desert). There are times when genuine faith means we pray and walk away.
This is Day Eight of our 21 Day Watch. We’ve been watching daily for signs of God at work. It seems odd to say “don’t watch” when we’re so focused on watching. But I have learned that sometimes, when I am gripped by a really big problem, the best way I can show God I trust Him is to pray and walk away from the problem.
I’m talking about those painful and stubborn problems which, short of a miracle, are not going away soon. I battled with infertility for many years before God answered our prayers for children. Perhaps you’re wrestling with a debilitating disease, a rocky marriage, an unpleasant job situation, financial hardship, or a wayward child.
Perhaps we have confidence that God is working in these troublesome situations. But if we watch too closely, we can get discouraged by the sheer magnitude of the problem and the seeming slowness of the answer. That’s when it helps to put that prayer in the “Secret Mailbox” and walk away.
I discovered there are lots of ways to find joy while our prayers are in the “Secret Mailbox” awaiting God’s perfect timing:
- Use this “waiting time” to learn something new or start a new hobby
- Grow in your knowledge of God’s Word; be part of a Life Group
- Experience a missions trip
- Further your education
- Work on you eating or exercise habits
- Clean out the clutter in your home and give things away
- Explore your life’s calling
- Take time for fun and laughter
- Serve those who are hurting worse than you are.
Over the years, I’ve found that some of the largest prayers I’ve entrusted into God’s hands, my “big asks,” have been answered in the most surprising ways while I am not watching!
Now I know who I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve entrusted to him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).