Especially now, when life feels hard, we need to remind ourselves that God hears our prayers, and cares.
Let’s look at prayer, and some truths about our response to God’s response to them.
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Are My Prayers Heard?
We tend to view prayer as the vehicle for asking for stuff. Nothing wrong with that. We should ask, as the Bible tells us to bring our needs and requests before God. To confidently approach the throne room.
Where that gets confusing is that some verses seem to promise that we will receive anything we ask for. It is because of these verses that prosperity theologists declare, “Name it, claim it, and it’s yours!”
Umm, no. It doesn’t work that way. Some will receive what they “claim,” while others won’t. And it’s not because they lack faith or are “bad” people. It’s simply that God isn’t our genie. He knows that answering some of our prayers would NOT be good for us.
God is our loving Heavenly Father, and He knows best. But that can be so hard to trust, right?
Trust That God is Good
So does God like — love?? — some of us more than others? Is that why our prayers go unanswered?
NO! The Bible promises us that God doesn’t play favorites. This is huge. This trust in God’s integrity should keep us from judging Him. Basically, we have to choose to live unoffended at God, resting in the knowledge that He knows best.
“Living an unoffended life is not some Zen-like experience,” writes Pastor Mark Batterson in his book The Circle Maker. “It’s living a life surrendered to His sovereignty, His mystery, and His love.”
God isn’t willy-nilly in answering our prayers. There is purpose behind His decisions. Some of our prayers simply don’t fit in with what He wants to accomplish in us or through us.
Even when we’re praying from anguish. In those dark and painful moments, we must trust that He is good and for us. Every toddler who demands candy thinks his or her parents are being mean when they withhold it, right? Because the toddler doesn’t see the big picture.
So Keep Praying?
YES! Repeatedly, knowing how deeply God loves you.
“Circle” your prayers, as Batterson puts it, asking again and again, until God makes it clear the answer is no.
Check your motivation. And recognize that if you seem to be in a waiting period, it might simply be because YOU haven’t paired action with your circling.
There’s an old joke that a poor man prayed daily that God would bless him with a winning lottery ticket. When he finally arrives in heaven, still penniless, the man asks God why He never honored his request. The answer: the man never bought a ticket.
Remember the old Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams? Sometimes we have to step out that boldly, even when others tell us we’re crazy.
Batterson admits that he kept “circling” his prayers about God providing a drummer for his church services. He finally felt God ask, “Dude, have you thought about buying a drum set?”
Doh! Even though the church was financially strapped (the reason Batterson hadn’t thought to purchase drums), he hunted down and bought a used set. Two days later, a professional drummer walked into his church, asking to serve!
Sometimes we need to “take a flying leap of faith.”
God is always stage right, adds Batterson, ready to make His grand entrance, though in His timing. Batterson’s first church plant failed. But he took the lessons he learned and used them to relaunch when God said, “GO!” Batterson’s ministry is now blessing many, many hurting people.
When our prayers go unanswered, it might be because God knows we need more personal development.
Evangelist Joyce Meyer knew that God had told her that she would have a world-wide ministry. But for years, she was only able to attract small groups of people — and they met in her living room! No lights. No stage. No television. Meyer chomped at the bit, wondering why God appeared to be holding her in place.
Only years down the road — when God finally allowed Meyer to speak to stadium crowds — did she realize that she had to go through a lot of growth and maturing in her faith before God could move her into His promise. It might be the same for you.
Keep praying! But allow God to be God. Patiently endure the waits. Humbly accept the “No.” Being used by Him as He directs, is actually the best place for us to be. Even if God asks us to be the ones to clean the toilets.
Praying feels unpredictable. Praying is sometimes scary. Praying is sometimes frustrating, because we want to control the outcome. But there is beauty and joy in surrendering to God’s will, knowing that He is using us to fulfill HIS purposes.
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