As a gardner, I begin looking as soon as the first daffodil pokes its head through the dirt for the signs of other perenials and bulbs to show that they are alive. Sometimes I take pictures of the first time I spot the new sprouts and again when they have made stalks, then when they have set buds, and finally when they have bloomed. Of course, if its a veggie, I take pics of the fruits as they grow. There have been times that I was anxious, and assumed the yucky dead looking thing down in the dirt was too far gone to produce. Boy have I been surprised this year with my dahliahs. I just poked the dead stuff back into the soil, and wondered what I would plant in their place. And then one day, a bird had pulled that nasty string of yucky rooty stuff out of the ground. What possessed me to not throw it away? Dunno. But I did it just in determination that it was going to stay there a little longer. 3 times we replanted it. And then I made a wire cover for the pot. I was determined that if they were going to have a chance, no bird was going to uproot them until they did. My husband couldn't wait to tell me one day that my perseverance had paid off. I don't know how, but in that dirt under that weedy mass of roots, developed a fat little oval bulb, that turned into a real plant, and slowly by surely, it's about 8 " high now. I was so glad the day I had to remove the wire covers because I was confident the dahliahs were actually growing.
I like to look at the things I pray for like a seed I plant, or a baby plant I planted last year that has been wintering. And I love watching the phases of God's answering that prayer. Just as I go to my heavily mulched items, meant to protect them from the hard freezes, and at first sign of life, I pull it away so the newest foliage can feel the warmth of the sun, I earnestly look for the first signs that God is answering my prayer. God knows how much I love watching him make things happen, so he does often give clues he is at work. I find trusting him to bring something to completion means noticing the little light of hope he gives, and giving him praise.
I learned how to wait on the Lord when witnessing to people as early as in my teens. I took the words of I Corinthians 3:6-7 to heart.
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
I realized that God didn't intend for me to be the sole exposure an individual seeking God needed to have. I realized it took me some time to accept Christ, and it would take others some time to faith it all out too. So I got into a pattern of taking the opportunities God gives to witness, and then wait on God to help the little seed sprout, and if I have an opportunity to water, then I will share more. Sometimes, God also lets me continue to be involved to reap the harvest. I totally love the light of Jesus that appears in their eye. It is like the bloom on a flower that has opened to full blaze. Or that lovely red tomato begging to be picked. You just know the Lord has brought his work to its fullness. It is totally up to him to reach a person's heart.
I have had my share of frustrations with prayer. There have definitely been days I wondered if I prayed wrong, or was asking for something God was prepared to say "NO," to. And he does that sometimes...say no. But I learned to look for the little clues, pull back all the hinderances to his blessing and just tend the planted seed. Its the same as with witnessing. God takes his time to make His answer to your prayer be an act that yields multiple blessings.
I like living, praying, and exploring life on God's terms, more now than ever. I believe that it is a great thing to test God, when we pray. He genuinely likes for us to prove him on his promises, and to allow him to make wonderful proofs to us that he is real and is at work in our lives. If you are ever anxious about your prayers being answered, approach the answer to your prayer by going back to God and say, "Lord give me a peak into the blessing you are about to give me." Or "Lord, Show me something about yourself as you answer my prayer." Or, "Lord, open my eyes so that I might see you help my little prayer grow from hope into a vital reality." It really isn't necessary to remain in the dark about his working on your behalf.
Just like I decided, that even though there was nothing that looked like a dahliah in that pot, I was going to at least protect it, we need to put on our sheild of faith, so the devil's unearthing bird, can't dig out our seeds of faith. Get defensive about your prayers. Give God the time to do it according to his eternal plan. That dark quiet time, when a seed is just a seed covered by dirt, may yeild nothing if it isn't given the environment to be a fertile seed. Be determined to protect and water the seed of faith you planted, but find joy in watching the plant grow and develop into God's best blessings. Genuinely watch for God at work. Ask him to show you each enduring step to his answering your prayer. You will discover that the answer to your prayer is much bigger than the thing you are asking for. EVERY TIME.
Father, thank you for making the answers to our prayers be something we never dreamed of or even asked for sometimes. Thank you for the incredible way you let the wheels of time, produce incredibly beautiful things. In Jesus Name, AMEN