When and How He Chooses
Joseph’s prayer leads to understanding the basis for faith and expectations when circumstances suggest a prayer may have gone “the wrong way.” He prayed for release from jail but the prayer appeared unanswered for two years. Thereafter, he was taken from jail and appointed to a high position in Egypt. If he believed that an appeal to Pharaoh was God’s answer to his prayer, then he likely was disappointed because the appeal did not bring him relief. However, if he understood God may have a plan for him that differed from his expectation, then he likely waited with faith for God’s time. Release from jail at the time he prayed would likely have led to great uncertainties for Joseph. However, more than two years after his prayer, he was released into a condition that gave him great control over future events. Joseph’s experience illustrates that God may grant a prayer with a promise to be fulfilled WHEN and HOW he chooses, to fit his overall plan for the recipient.
In the first installment of this two-part study on Joseph’s prayer (see Prayer of Joseph from the Dungeon Part 1 of 2), we observed that Joseph probably believed his encounter with Pharaoh’s cupbearer was God’s answer to his prayer.
Therefore, he used the opportunity to appeal to Pharaoh. However, although the encounter was indeed a key step in the implementation of God’s plan for Joseph, his expectation regarding the opportunity was different from God’s plan. Joseph prayed to be released from jail and expected his appeal to Pharaoh would result in his release. However, the cupbearer did not deliver the appeal and Joseph remained in jail for the next two years. Thereafter, Pharaoh had dreams that troubled him but could not be interpreted by any of his people [Genesis 41:8]: “In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.” Then, and only then, Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph—as an expert dream interpreter—and informed his master [Genesis 41:12–13]: “Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”