Susanna and I were about three weeks from getting married when we realized we needed furniture for the apartment we'd be moving into after the wedding. We did what any couple on a tight budget would do...we went to Ashley's Furniture and begged for discounts on already discounted furniture.
We walked away with enough furniture for the bedroom, living room, and dining area. The dining area was just large enough to fit a 4-person, bar height table, and we found one on sale with four chairs for a good price. That table went to all of our living spaces for the next eight years. This means it also had eight years worth of scratches, dents, and stains to prove its existence. Here's a picture of it cleaned up pretty well so I could sell it on Craigslist:
Last year, we were finally ready for an upgrade, and my wife asked her dad if he would make us a table. He recently took up a woodworking hobby and creates really beautiful furniture. Here's a picture of the final product he made for us:
During the process of table making he invited us over to take a look, and while we were there he started telling us about the development of this craft. He showed us pictures of the tree the wood came from, the lumber yard he picked up the wood from, the drying racks for the wood, the before and after of the staining, and eventually the final product.
Do you know why he made it? Because his daughter asked him to make it.
There are many people who believe this is how God operates. We ask him for something and TA-DA he makes it. That's actually not true.
Imagine if we had spent 40 days praying and fasting for a handmade table just like the one in the picture above. We had faith to believe that God would provide a table. Would a table appear? Probably. In fact, I believe my wife's father probably would have been convinced by the Holy Spirit to make us one as a surprise in that case, because it's exactly what we wanted.
But, if that scenario had happened, there's still a question that needs to be answered. Did God make the table?
Who made the table? Mike Stephens.
But, who provided the resources? God.
Look at this not well-known or often-quoted passage of Scripture in the Bible.
Exodus 31:1-11 (NIV) 1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. 6 Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: 7 the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— 8 the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, 9 the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand— 10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”
If you read prior to this, you see that God commanded the people to gather a ton of resources - different types of woods, precious metals, pigments and dyes, and more. These are all natural resources that God had put into the earth. And, when they're all gathered up, God doesn't say, "STAND BACK Y'ALL! I'M BOUT TO BLOW YOUR MIND...ALAKAZAM!" and magically a temple appears.
Instead, God gave His Spirit to Bezalel and empowered his skills of craftsmanship and leadership to become the very first general contractor in recorded history to construct the first church house where God's presence would dwell.
You see, God doesn't make tables. Instead, God provides resources, and empowers you to make the table.
When I was in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in my early twenties, I prayed for God to pay off my debt. And, you know what? He didn't. Instead, he provided me with wisdom, and understanding, and knowledge, and skills to start businesses that provided me additional income to pay off that debt supernaturally fast.
What "table" are you asking God to make for you, that He's attempting to resource and empower you to make yourself?
Maybe the reason you aren't seeing the table appear in your dining room of faith is because the wood is still at the proverbial lumber yard waiting on you to come pick it up, cut it, dry it, stain it, and put the final pieces together.