Answered Prayer

Posted onCategoriesTerri's Thoughts

Right now I am praying fervently for the health of a friend. Rarely have I been so intentional about praying for another. When you have a request before God that touches your heart deeply, it makes you evaluate all the reasons that God might not answer. I’ve spent a good bit of time thinking about the “why” of answered prayer.

At first I prayed for Satan to be bound in this situation. I’m praying for a strong Christ follower who has years of strength left to share with his wife, his four sons and grandchildren, with his Church. It seems to me that God would want to sustain the life of one like this! God has more work to do on this earth and this one wants to work God’s way, which is why I started praying for Satan to be bound, that the road before treatment would be smooth, no obstacles to medicine, diagnosis, easy sleep, and more.

Ephesians 6:12 “We are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world…against evil spirits in heavenly places.”

When I had plumbed the depth of those prayers, and I must confess that my depth is quite shallow, I started to re-evaluate other reasons that God might not answer prayer.

Perhaps I was praying selfishly. James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” But I didn’t think this applied to this situation. Genesis 12:2-3 tells us that God blessed Abraham so that he could become a blessing to others. That definitely gave me more energy to pray because this person is a blessing to many others.

My third thought was that God doesn’t answer prayer when we have unconfessed sin. The best example of this is in the Old Testament after Joshua led the Israelite’s to conquer Jericho. Joshua 7. THEO parents and I began meeting weekly over Zoom to pray for our families and teachers. We have focused on unconfessed sin every week although I am confident we still have not given it the attention it needs.

So many people live far below all that God promises us, wanting to skate by on the thin precipice of “being saved.” When you live that way, beware that you will come up short when you have a God-sized need. As Jenni Allen says in her messages, “Discipline with God-time doesn’t guarantee intimacy with God.” That is so true, but it helps to build the structure needed for the intimacy that we need with our Lord.

And, even if my prayers are not answered for my friend, I know that he and his wife have intimacy with God that will make “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23) bearable with God’s presence.

Folks, even if God says no to a prayer request, His followers have a strength and peace that is unmatched by the world….which takes us to the fourth point. Maybe God doesn’t answer prayer because He has a bigger idea in mind. Maybe He wants to display the strength of one of His faithful for the world to see the benefits of following God, to see the Glory of God has value in our lives here on this earth.

I’ve rambled a long time on this topic but there is a lot to consider. Maybe God doesn’t answer prayer because our request is unscriptural. This is a broad category that most of us intuitively “get” even if we aren’t Christ-followers. Don’t pray to win the lottery or for your child to get all A’s or for a new car or a new house or whatever.

Finally, maybe just maybe, God is answering but for today, His answer is wait. His timing is perfect because He is perfect. Stop. I am stopping right now, to thank God for all the positive things I know about Him – regardless of the answer to this specific prayer. Things such as His faithfulness, His love and kindness, even when things don’t turn out “as I want.” We grow impatient when we are unsure. No need to grow impatient if you ware waiting on God. He is a sure thing. He is an unchanging sure thing.

Do pray for Him to give you eyes to see His answers, His movement. Ask Him to give you ears to hear His voice in the midst of the storm.

Praying for eyes to see or ears to hear always reminds of a devotional I wrote called “My active God hears you.” He hears and He is active but sometimes it takes decades for His actions to be uncovered, complete or finished. I wrote it after praying for something for 32 years. “My active God hears you” was validated another time when my 87 year old father-in-law accepted Jesus and was a changed man until his death at 92. God isn’t accountable to me to show me His plans. He offers us sneak previews on a grand scale, such as in the book of Revelation, but He is not beholden to anyone else’s time table – certainly not mine.

We serve a big God, creator of the universe, creator of time itself. It is truly amazing that He invites us to ask anything of Him at all. And yet He does.

So stop complaining about unanswered prayer. Start cooperating with God by reading His Word and aligning your life to His ways….just like my friend who needs a miracle today. It’s a great way to live. He may be walking through the shadow of the valley of death presented in Psalm 23 but he is walking with grace that I envy.

Try leaning into God’s ways. Begin today and keep talking to Him.