God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about his Son — that I constantly mention you, always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you. (Romans 1:9-10)
God always answers prayer — “yes,” “no,” or “not yet.” Although we may not enjoy a “no” we can be particularly frustrated and discouraged with a “not yet” as we wonder about the delay. Do we remain hopeful and trust in His plan for us? Do we stop praying and asking or assume it’s a “no”? As an apostle, evangelist, missionary, and church builder you would think that Paul might expect God to approve his request. He wasn’t going to Rome on a holiday but to encourage the church and to preach the gospel! Although he had been longing to go and asking for (probably) years, God had other plans for him.
Eventually, after several more years, God answers Paul’s prayer and he does go to Rome—but as a prisoner. It’s probably not what he envisioned but God uses Paul and his time in Rome to advance His kingdom. God uses his downtime to write to churches and these letters become books of the Bible. Through Paul’s imprisonment, the gospel is preached (Eph 6:20, Col 4:18) and the Roman empire is impacted (Phil 4:22). Although under house arrest, only God knows how many people visited Paul and were challenged, encouraged, proselytized, or commissioned among the millions in Rome as a bustling international hub. Paul was able to come to Rome and preach the gospel, but it just wasn’t in the way he planned.
Are you faithfully, earnestly, and consistently praying for something in your life? Don’t give up! He hears you and, if it’s not a “no” it’s a “yes” or “maybe not as you think” or a “not just yet.” God has plans to give you a hope and a future (Jer 29:11) and he has prepared great work for us to accomplish (Eph 2:10). We just need to trust Him and keep faithful as He will never abandon us (Ps 55:22) and always works out all things for our good (Rom 8:28). He works out all things for the good of His people.