‘Look at the nations and watch –

    and be utterly amazed.

For I am going to do something in your days

    that you would not believe,

    even if you were told.

6 I am raising up the Babylonians,

    that ruthless and impetuous people,

who sweep across the whole earth

    to seize dwellings not their own.

7 They are a feared and dreaded people;

    they are a law to themselves

    and promote their own honour.

8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,

    fiercer than wolves at dusk.

Their cavalry gallops headlong;

    their horsemen come from afar.

They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;

9     they all come intent on violence.

Their hordes advance like a desert wind

    and gather prisoners like sand.

10 They mock kings

    and scoff at rulers.

They laugh at all fortified cities;

    by building earthen ramps they capture them.

11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on –

    guilty people, whose own strength is their god.’

Note first of all that answers to prayer can come in words (revelation, insight, pictures etc) or deeds – maybe both. God answered Habakkuk by telling him what he was going to do and then doing it. He answered in speech and action.

There may be a greater problem than unanswered prayer, and it is that of answered prayer, when the answer isn’t what you wanted or comes in a guise you didn’t expect (or possibly don’t even recognise).

Habakkuk had been praying about the state of his nation, wondering how long it would be before God did something. God said He was going to do something, but Habakkuk wouldn’t be able to believe it when he knew what it was.

Habakkuk could scarcely believe his ears. He got an ‘amazing answer to prayer’ but not in the sense in which we tend to use the expression. God told him that He was going to use the then dominant world superpower, Babylon, to invade and judge His own people. If the people of God were bad at this time (Habakkuk’s issue if you remember? See verses 1-4), the Babylonians were even badder!!

As we will see in chapter 3, when we pray we to be prepared to take the long view. Some answers may come quickly, but many are worked out over a period years. It’s like sowing prayer seed, but we do not know exactly when the harvest will appear. By the end of the book, the prophet has got to a place of deep faith and confidence in God. He knows things will ultimately turn out fine, but in the short term he makes the choice to worship God in circumstances which are less than ideal.

Prayer: Lord, when answers to my prayers are delayed, or are not to my taste, help me to go on believing. Cause my roots to sink deeper into you and your Word. Grow my faith in these hard times. Where I might fail to recognise your answers because I asked one way and you answered another, please give me eyes to see and understand