My wife and I lived in Austin, Texas for eight years and loved it. We enjoyed the wonderful weather (well except for June – August), great food, phenomenal music, friendly people, wild flowers and lots of other amenities.
However, for much of our time there east central Texas was in a drought. Lake Travis, normally considered full at 681 feet above sea level, often looked more like the Dead Sea, at some times over fifty feet below the full point. Levels would go up, then down, then up and more down. Islands not normally visible became regular sights as everyone hoped and prayed for the missing water to be restored.
Some suggested it might be decades before 681 was attained again, if ever.
Yesterday, the lake was officially full again. The first time in six years. And yet for seventy-two months, many people, including pastors predicted, claimed, begged, promised, cajoled, preached and called for prayer meetings to somehow restore the lakes.
And often it was implied that anything less than 681 – 680, 670 , 600 – was unacceptable. In their minds for the lake not to reach the magic full number would be an affront to God and a clear indication that His people didn’t have enough faith.
And while I’m happy that one of my favorite parts of the country is enjoying this re-filling and example of God’s provision there are some questions that leaders, preachers and teachers would be wise to address and use as teachable moments. I fear, however, that there will be some gloating such as, “We prayed hard and you see, God had to come through. We told you so!”
Maybe someone will answer the following:
Question 1: Why didn’t God answer Austin’s prayers years ago? What happened when leaders called for a huge prayer effort concerning the drought and nothing happened?
Question 2: What do we say to people who’ve been praying for something even longer than six years and still don’t have their answer? Why was Austin allowed to have a major need met but other places were not?
Question 3: How does the sovereignty of God fit here? Were there other things that might have been going on that kept God from responding to the needs in Austin because other goals and purposes were at play?
You see there is always a tendency to think that prayer is about getting what we want from God, that somehow he has our interests and needs at the head of the line. As a result many think they can just send their requests to God and he’s obligated to come through. Austin’s water shortage is at least one example that it doesn’t work that way. Thankfully, we have a great God, one of mercy and grace, who does sometimes bless and come through for us.
Yes, we should still ask and still believe He can. But don’t gloat. It still up to Him, no matter the request.