1. THE DESIRES OF THE HEART
a. What was Abraham’s heart’s desire? Genesis 15:1–3. What does God promise to those who believe in Him? Psalm 37:4, 5; Matthew 21:21, 22.
“Every promise in the Word of God is for us. In your prayers, present the pledged word of Jehovah and by faith claim His promises. His word is the assurance that if you ask in faith, you will receive all spiritual blessings. Continue to ask, and you will receive exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think. Educate yourself to have unlimited confidence in God. Cast all your care upon Him. Wait patiently for Him, and He will bring it to pass.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 71.
b. When we pray for God to fulfill a desire of our heart, what else should we always include with our request? James 4:13–15; Matthew 26:39.
“The consistent course is to commit our desires to our all-wise heavenly Father, and then, in perfect confidence, trust all to Him. We know that God hears us if we ask according to His will. But to press our petitions without a submissive spirit is not right; our prayers must take the form, not of command, but of intercession.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 230.
2. WAITING LONGER THAN EXPECTED
a. Explain how God answered Abraham’s prayer as soon as he finished his request? Genesis 15:3, 4.
“As Abram had no son, he at first thought that his trusty servant, Eliezer, should become his son by adoption, and his heir. But God informs Abram that his servant shall not be his son and heir, but that he should really have a son.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 100, 101.
b. Even though God immediately promised Abraham a son, why didn’t He reveal at first the date when Abraham’s son would be born? Acts 1:6, 7; Proverbs 16:9; Psalm 34:8.
“The Lord intended to prove the firm faith and reliance of Abram upon the promises He had made him.”—Ibid., p.101.
“We need not expect all sunshine in this world. Clouds and storms will cluster about us, and we must be prepared to keep our eyes directed where we saw the light last. Its rays may be hidden but they . . . still shine beyond the cloud. It is our work to wait, to watch, to pray, and to believe. We shall prize the light of the sun more highly after the clouds disappear. We shall see the salvation of God if we trust in God in the darkness as well as in the light.”—Our High Calling, p. 318.
c. When prayer is not answered when we expect it, what are we in danger of? 1 Corinthians 10:9, 10; Hebrews 3:12–14. Where will it lead? Genesis 16:1–6.
“When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you’ (Matthew 7:7).”—Steps to Christ, p. 96.
3. A REWARDER OF FAITH
a. In what two things does God want us to believe? Hebrews 11:6. What was Abraham’s initial demonstration? Genesis 15:4–6.
“We should not present our petitions to God to prove whether He will fulfill His word, but because He will fulfill it; not to prove that He loves us, but because He loves us.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 126.
b. As God rejected Ishmael as the promised seed, describe how time affected Abraham and Sarah’s faith in God’s fulfilling His promise. Genesis 17:15–18; 18:9–12.
“When Abraham was nearly one hundred years old, the promise of a son was repeated to him, with the assurance that the future heir should be the child of Sarah. But Abraham did not yet understand the promise. His mind at once turned to Ishmael, clinging to the belief that through him God’s gracious purposes were to be accomplished.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 146.
c. What does every answered prayer have attached to it? Genesis 18:14; 21:1, 2. What should we always remember about God’s timing compared to our timing? Habakkuk 2:3.
“To every sincere prayer an answer will come. It may not come just as you desire, or at the time you look for it; but it will come in the way and at the time that will best meet your need. The prayers you offer in loneliness, in weariness, in trial, God answers, not always according to your expectations, but always for your good.”—Gospel Workers, p. 258.
“God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon Him; for should He do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors He bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we should become careless and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help.”—The Review and Herald, March 27, 1913.
4. THE NEED OF PATIENCE
a. Why doesn’t God always let the fulfillment of a prayer happen immediately? James 1:2–4; Romans 8:24, 25.
“We all desire immediate and direct answers to our prayers, and are tempted to become discouraged when the answer is delayed or comes in an unlooked-for form. But God is too wise and good to answer our prayers always at just the time and in just the manner we desire. He will do more and better for us than to accomplish all our wishes. And because we can trust His wisdom and love, we should not ask Him to concede to our will, but should seek to enter into and accomplish His purpose. Our desires and interests should be lost in His will. These experiences that test faith are for our benefit. By them it is made manifest whether our faith is true and sincere, resting on the word of God alone, or whether depending on circumstances, it is uncertain and changeable. Faith is strengthened by exercise.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 230, 231.
b. What assurance can we have in God’s promises even though they are not always fulfilled when we think they should be? Hebrews 6:13–18; Isaiah 55:8–11; Psalm 27:14.
“Work in faith, and leave results with God. Pray in faith, and the mystery of His providence will bring its answer. At times it may seem that you cannot succeed. But work and believe, putting into your efforts faith, hope, and courage. After doing what you can, wait for the Lord, declaring His faithfulness, and He will bring His word to pass. Wait, not in fretful anxiety, but in undaunted faith and unshaken trust.”—Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 245.
“Wait on the Lord, and again I say, Wait on the Lord. We may ask of the human agents and not receive. We may ask of God and He says, Ye shall receive. Therefore you know to whom to look; you know in whom to trust. You must not trust in man or make flesh your arm. Lean as heavily as you please upon the Mighty One who hath said, ‘Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me’ (Isaiah 27:5). Then wait and watch and pray and work, keeping your face constantly turned to the Sun of Righteousness.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 119.
5. THE PATIENCE OF THE SAINTS
a. What characteristic describes God’s remnant people? Revelation 14:12. Why is love, the highest round of the Christian ladder, unmentioned? 2 Peter 1:5–7; James 5:7, 8.
“It is the steady purpose, the untiring effort, that will gain the victory at last. It is he who endureth to the end that shall be saved. It is they who patiently continue in well-doing that shall have eternal life and the immortal reward. . . . All who are engaged in this warfare with Satan and his host have a close work before them. They must not be as impressible as wax, that the fire can melt into any form. They must endure hardness as faithful soldiers, stand at their post, and be true every time.”—Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 101, 102.
b. Explain how God is using our present trials to prepare us for the return of our Lord. Hebrews 10:35–39; Matthew 25:5; 24:13, 42–44.
“In the religious life of every soul who is finally victorious there will be scenes of terrible perplexity and trial; but his knowledge of the Scriptures will enable him to bring to mind the encouraging promises of God, which will comfort his heart and strengthen his faith in the power of the Mighty One. . . . The trial of faith is more precious than gold. All should learn that this is a part of the discipline in the school of Christ, which is essential to purify and refine them from the dross of earthliness.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 81.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Will God give us every desire of our heart?
2. How should we react when every prayer is not answered the way we think?
3. Why can “time” be the greatest challenge to our faith?
4. In a world of instant technology, what trait do we need to cultivate?
5. Why will those who fail to develop a patient trust in God’s Word fall away?