I am sure that most of you have had moments in life where you prayed for something at a particular time. Later you find out that you got what you prayed for. The only strange thing is that the incident you prayed for occurred before you actually prayed. So hang on, what’s the point of praying then? I mean, you can’t like change the past from a prayer can you? If something has already happened then there’s no point praying for it since it won’t change the outcome.
An example would be praying for a friend who is like having an outside-school exam. You pray that the person does well, the next time you see the person they tell you that they did really well on the exam. And then they tell you that they did the exam on a day before you prayed for the person. And then you think: "Wait, how is it that my prayer was answered before I actually prayed? Was my prayer even answered at all?"
This is exactly what makes the mind of Christ so hard to perceive. We can prayer for something and then have that prayer answered in the past. This can happen. Like for instance when we pray for things and we don’t see an answer, sometimes the answer is already there, even before we asked for it. We simply needed Christ to reveal to us that we already have it. It’s called having the answer right before your nose all along. That is one way that God answers our prayers.
Another example of these type of prayers is like praying that you did well for an exam just before you get handed back the test results. Why bother praying for the test? I mean, it’s not going to change your marks is it? God isn’t going to come down from heaven, snatch your paper and give you the mark you prayed for. Nevertheless when you get your paper back you find that your prayer was answered. How is that?
There is no doubt that we always seem to pray for things that have already occurred and that our prayer would seem to have no effect on, but God still answers it…in the past. But that is probably not the best way to interpret it. Rather, God gives us what we need because He knows we are going to pray for it. God gives your friend a good mark in an outer-school exam because you will pray for that person in the future. When you do a test and three weeks later get the result back and you pray just before you receive the results, God gives you a good mark as soon as you do the test because He knows you are going to pray for a good mark (even though you should be praying for it before the exam).
So what does this all mean for us? Surely we can’t tell what is going to happen in the future and we also cannot tell whether or not everything that happens is a result of prayer from the future, whether by yourself or by others. But what we do know is that God has laid down every little detail on our path. We might not see it from say several years away, nor several days away, nor even when we pass that moment. But we do know that in the end the answer to our prayers will be revealed to us.
What makes the idea of having our prayers answered before we even pray so special is that God has designed everything in such an ingenious way which makes us stare in awe. There is no doubt no man could ever design and lay out every aspect in one person’s life (everything they’ve done, are doing and will do), let alone everyone in the world. It’s a good reassuring thought to know that God slowly reveals His divine majesty to us through our prayers, so we should never take prayer for granted.
So if anyone ever feels like God hasn’t shown them any signs of His existence or that He hasn’t spoken with someone, then it’s simply a matter of that person not yet asking for what God has already done. Of course we can’t see which prayers have been answered before we actually pray it. It’s like receiving a present you have yet to ask for (or have yet to need). This is why we always need to keep a keen eye on the things that happen in our lives. Everything that God does and gives to us has a reason and although we may not find that reason immediately, there is bound to be a time when the answer is revealed in the future.
So thus this is the concept of praying for the past, or can also be viewed as "Answering for the Future".