“And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak” (Matthew 9:20)
It should be encouraging for some of us to ponder anew the circumstances of what is to many a familiar story. This woman had suffered with a hemorrhage “for twelve years.” This was a LONG-term problem that she had. Undoubtedly she had prayed and asked God to take it away, possibly numerous times — with no answer.
This went on not just for a year — which can seem like an eternity when one is ill — but five years, then TEN, and then “twelve years.” Let that sink in for a bit. It must have seemed to her at times as if this prayer would never be answered. But, as we see here, it was! She touched the fringe of Jesus’ garment; He said to her “Your faith has made you well”; and she was indeed healed — after all of those twelve, long, years!
This story is a reminder to us that God does answer prayers that we have prayed for a long time with no immediate answer. In fact, I have personally encountered a couple of such answers in recent days:
— The other morning on Facebook, an Indian pastor friend of mine, Ravi Sharma, shared that he led the wife of another Pastor to faith in Christ. Pastor Paul had been praying for his wife’s salvation for SIXTEEN years!
— While attending the Southern Baptist Convention, I had the opportunity to visit with a Christian brother who serves in a ministry, who had himself rebelled against God and his parents for over THIRTY years, before coming back to Him in answer to his parent’s’ faithful prayers and those of their congregation, who never gave up praying for him.
The bottom line for us? God does hear and answer long-term prayer requests. Jesus told the woman here in Matthew 9, “Take courage.” (:22) That may be His word for you today regarding a certain prayer request on your heart. Even if you have been praying for 10, 20, or even 30 years, “take courage” and persevere in your intercession — your prayer could very well be the next one God answers!