Monday, August 27, 2012

How God answers prayer

Now that my arm is fully able to type, i have no excuses for not posting. Yesterday, there was an interesting lesson on how God answers prayer. The answer is that He is fond of answering us in ways we don't expect.

I talked with our music leader about the subject, and the example of Elijah at the brook, when the brook dries up, and he is thirsty. We would expect he asked God which rock to strike (ala Moses) for more water. Simple prayer request. "Lord I thirst. Which rock?". God tells him: "Go to Zarephath...I have ordered a widow to give you food." Not a simple answer. For the full story read 1st Kings chapter 17. The widow has nothing when Elijah arrives, yet they are provided for. When Elijah arrives, the situation seems hopeless, God has sent him to someone with nothing.

This is not the way we expect our prayers to be answered. When we need a job, we expect God to provide. When we are sick, we expect to be healed, and if we are not we wonder if we have done something wrong, or go to the wrong church. Perhaps that church down the road with that strange looking steeple has more powerful prayer warriors able to convince God to heal.

We talked about how often God's answers are not what we expect. For many when God doesn't answer the way we expect, we think our prayer has failed, not seeing that often God's answers are far more complex than we realize.

The next addition to this theme was from a woman who is also a poet. She told me of praying for new people to come to an AA meeting, wanting someone with experience to teach her. The ones God sent were not the ones she was expecting.

Three of the most miserable drunks, down as far as it was possible to go, showed up. Not what she asked for, yet God had sent exactly who she needed to meet. Like Elijah at Zeraphath, God's plan was far stranger than she had imagined. She saw God at work there, and she joined God ,in a prayer answered in a far different way than she had imagined.

Another take on this theme came from a friend without a job for two years, still looking, but loosing hope. Prayer seems to have had no effect on God.

Reading Psalm 74, the author starts "Why have you rejected us forever, O God?"...
It seems this writer of the psalms, also had this problem with God. Why did he seem asleep? In verse 10 he continues "How long will this enemy mock you O God?"

For many Christians, when God doesn't answer our prayers the way we demand, not healing, not providing a job, we are disheartened. We lose hope. It's easy to fall into that pit. What do we do when God is silent? Do we still trust Him? Read Job for a man who has God take all from him, family, money, health, any yet will not curse Him. Will you trust when God doesn't answer your prayers the way you demand?

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