Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
Psalm 4: 1
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’”
II Corinthians 12: 8, 9
King James Version
“Standing In The Need of Prayer -- Part 4
“Never make the blunder of trying to forecast the way God is going to answer your prayer.”
Is there a prayer that I have asked God to answer in a specific way and yet it appears an answer will never come?
Have I ever been disappointed when I didn’t receive an answer to a prayer, only to find out later if the prayer had been answered in the way I asked it would not have been for my best good?
“God will always answer our prayers, but He will answer them in His way, and His way will be the way of perfect love. Often if He answered our prayer, as we at the moment desire, it would be the worst thing possible for us, for in our ignorance we often ask for gifts which would be our ruin.”
“If you do not get all you ask, it is because the Saviour intends to give you something better”
Yesterday, we took a look into the life of Job, a man of God who faced bitter tragedy but as we are told in the very last chapter of this powerful book in the Old Testament, as Job was praying for his “friends,” the tide turned. And I want to add one more thing, Job’s friends were nothing to crow about. They were a bunch of whiners and complainers who rather than provide hope and encouragement to Job, even went so far as to dump the blame for all his trials on Job, himself. Calling Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar “friends” for me is quite a stretch, because these fellas only added to the burdens poor Job faced.
Yet through all the trouble Job encountered, he didn’t give up on his heavenly Father, nor did he let go of God’s hand. Furthermore, Job didn’t blame God for all the calamities which had befallen him, but instead, he kept praying. Now I don’t know about you, but praying through trouble, especially when it seems that God is silent, is one of the most spiritually challenging endeavors I’ve ever faced in my own life.
This is why I’m thankful that the Apostle Paul took time to share with his friends in Rome the fact that facing difficult times and tumultuous events is something which links all of us together, from the very beginning of the Bible to the very end.
In Romans 8: 24-28, which we began to study yesterday, Paul shares the fact that the “Spirit” makes intercessions for us – and all I can say is, “Thank You, Father!” In fact, even when I don’t know my own heart…even when I don’t know what is the best for myself…even when, because I’m worn down with infirmities and overcome by disappointment, the “Spirit” still intercedes for me – knowing just what I need. I have to tell you, this knowledge gives me renewed confidence when my prayers don’t seem to do anything but hit the ceiling and bounce right back. And I think you know exactly what I’m talking about.
There are times in all our lives when our prayer lives contain a fervor that illuminates our path until there is a radiance which surrounds us.
But there are also those times when it has seemed to me that my prayers were slamming up against a concrete wall. The answers I was looking for or hoping for were not forthcoming. To be perfectly honest with you, over the past twenty-four months, the prayers I’ve offered on my own personal behalf have not been answered the way I was hoping and pleading they would – at least from my human viewpoint. But what kept me praying, more frequently and fervently than ever, was the fact that I was interceding on behalf of so many other people whose prayers I did see answered and this gave me courage to know that if God was at work in the lives of those I was praying for, He was at work in my own life, too. All I needed to do was be patient and learn to wait for His perfect answer at His perfect time. By the way, when the answer does come, I will know for certain it is God’s answer. That it is within His will and way! Of this I am certain!
And this, I believe, is the key to understanding that very difficult part of our prayer life that we refer to as unanswered prayer. Several months ago, Angela, one of God’s beautiful “Garden” daughters shared with me a prayer need which has not been answered. I must admit I was in tears by the end of her note. I wish I had the perfect answer for her because there just seems to be no reason at all why this prayer has gone unanswered. All I could think to share were the words of William Culbertson who encourages us despite any setback to, “Keep praying, but be thankful that God’s answers are wiser than our prayers!” While I have found this statement to be true, it doesn’t take away the pain and longing you and I may feel during the waiting times in our lives when we are left to wonder what in the world God is up to.
William Gurnall, describing those waiting times when God’s answers don’t seem to come to us, offers this hopeful word picture: “Some prayers have a longer voyage than others, but they return with the richer lading at last, so that the praying soul is a gainer by waiting for an answer.”
I don’t know what it is you are praying for, nor do I know how long you have waited to have the answer to your special prayer need. But I do agree with the way Donald Barnhouse describes prayer when he observed that it isn’t some powerful prayer that brings an answer – it is “the power of the Lord who answers prayer.” And the reason I keep praying, even when I don’t get the answer I want or think I need, is that from my personal experience, I’ve found that often when I ask God for the best I can come up with, His answer is so beyond my wildest dreams that as Jean Ingelow admitted, “I have lived to thank God that all my prayers have not been answered.”
I encourage you – for every unanswered need in your life today – keep praying. For as A. L. Stone so wonderfully expressed: “Large asking and large expectation on our part honor God.”
“Prayer is a powerful thing, for God has bound and tied Himself thereto. None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience.”
“The privilege of prayer, to me, is one of the most cherished possessions, because faith and experience alike convince me that God, Himself, sees and answers, and His answers I never venture to criticize. It is only my part to ask.”
Wilfred T. Grenfell
How Do I Pray
“Very carefully…irrationally…and in thanksgiving; in pain and in sorrow…in the pure joy of living and laughing. Asking for magic…begging for a miracle. I am seeking, searching, forgiving, repentant; looking for answers for the sick, the lonely, the hungry; looking for direction, asking for mercy; seeking silence and trying to listen, listen, listen. On my knees, in the dark of night; while peeling onions; on my walk, with the Psalms and to the Father.
Those are my Alleluias and my Amens.”
Mrs. Jean M. Hicks
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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