Learning about Unanswered Prayer by Feeding the Cat

The other day I was the first person to get up, so I had to feed the cat his breakfast.  I noticed that his food bowls and tray were quite filthy from dried-up food scraps, so I washed his dishes first.  Well, that process takes some time, and Hero was impatient.  He kept meowing and otherwise complaining, eager to be fed.

As I stood at the kitchen sink, giving his food containers a proper cleaning so he could enjoy fresh food without previous meal residues affecting the flavor, I thought about prayer.  How often we are like the cat, down at ground level, crying out incessantly for whatever it is we feel hungry for.  Not understanding why there is any delay.

Then—as I gently spoke to the cat reassuring words that he wouldn’t starve, to be patient, and otherwise explaining what I was doing and why—I realized I have a perspective he doesn’t have.  He certainly didn’t understand my explanation of how the fresh food he was so desperately craving would taste better in a soap-and-water cleaned bowl than in one just merely wiped out of yesterday’s leftovers.  And from his position on the floor, he certainly couldn’t see the labor of love I was performing for him or the progress I was making!

How true this is for us!  We, like the cat, only know we’re needing something that only Someone more capable than us can provide.  We can’t figure out what’s causing the delay in answering our prayers.  And even if we’re told, we most likely don’t comprehend it.  We can’t really see what God is doing on our behalf.  So, we meow—I mean, cry and pray—like a professional complainer.

It dawned on me that the unanswered prayers I was currently struggling to have patience for, could very well be delayed for the same reason I delayed giving my cat what he wanted.  Just like Hero’s fresh food –untainted by the rancid residue of the past—will taste better because of a delay (shorter in reality than his limited mind perceives it), perhaps my next blessing or answered prayer will be better for me because of a delay than if given to me immediately.

Yes, Lord, I will strive to be more patient when my prayers appear to be unanswered.  Thank You for reminding me that You ARE working on my behalf even if I can’t see it.  The delays I find so aggravating will prove to make me (if not also my situations) better, just as Your Word says (“…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” Romans 5:3b-4 NIV).

Well, that lesson was last month.  Today I got up first, so I had to feed the cat.  Guess what!  His food bowls and tray needed to be washed again!

But this time, as I scrubbed away the yuck, Hero laid calmly on the kitchen floor.  No crying, meowing, or even impatient pacing or clamoring and getting under foot!

In fact, when I moved ever so slightly from the sink to the drain rack area to dry his dishes, he got up and moved a matching distance.  It was like he just wanted to stay the same exact distance …or closeness… to me, keeping pace with me!

Whoa!!  I think there’s another lesson in that!

Stay close to your Provider.  Don’t wander off and leave the impression you’ve lost interest in what you originally requested.  Yet you don’t want to get under foot and interfere, either.  Just “wait on the Lord” (Isa. 40:31 NKJV), showing that you trust Him to provide an answer in His perfect timing (compare the NIV’s “hope in the Lord”).  When you have that confident hope, you find it easier to wait.

So, it looks like my cat has learned how to wait patiently.  Have I?  Have you?


(What has your pet taught you about God? Share it in the comments!)

Thanks for reading!


Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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