The ground was wet from the night’s rain and the warm autumn air was refreshing. It was a perfect day to plant tulip bulbs. With my grandsons as helpers, we located spots in my yard, dug holes, planted forty bulbs, and as one boy measured, he instructed, “five inches apart.”

When we finished, I told them we had to wait until Spring to see flowers. The bulbs were a colorful mix, so we had no idea which colors would pop up and where. We had to trust that those odd looking bulbs would take root, get nourishment from the soil, and grow into beautiful Spring flowers.

Not to let a “here a little, there a little precept” moment escape, I told them “God will be working underground for months before we see the flowers bloom. We have to wait.” That simplified horticultural  explanation satisfied them and I was glad, because there is a lot more going on underground than we think about or I could explain.

Our fun activity reminded me of ongoing prayers that go unanswered-sometimes over years. We plant prayers, often in tears, and don’t see results. But like bulbs underground, God is at work in us, others, and in working toward His plans and results. There’s a lot going on underground, or in our case, behind the scenes.  What can we do as we  pray, wait, and trust blooms will appear?

  • We can take encouragement from James 5:16 (NLT) “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
  • Just as I have no idea how a bulb can become a flower, in my prayers I can grow in understanding that God does not operate on my timetable or plans, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:8 NIV)
  • I can look expectantly and “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 NIV 
  • When I feel my prayers are like the invisible action of the bulbs in winter, I develop God’s strength and live in His grace as scripture says, “In quietness and in trust shall be your strength..” (Isaiah 30:15 ESV)
  • And then as the apostle Paul instructed “Pray continually,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV) and don’t be weary (Galatians 6:9)


We plant bulbs of prayer but the seasons pass with no blooms  We wish it were as short a time from Fall to Spring as bulbs become flowers- to see prayers answered. But just as we don’t see all that is going on underground with the bulbs, we can be sure God is at work. Perhaps the surprising colors of grace, courage, and strength will will bloom in us as we pray,

How do you find encouragement when seasons pass and you see no changes or prayer is not answered?

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