Evangelist, Chouteau Hills Church of Christ
For the past few weeks, this article has dealt with prayer. This will be the last in this series. As our loving Father, God wants to give us the things we desire. Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” God knows what is good for us, and He wants us to have those good things.
When we pray to God, He often answers with a “Yes.” Elijah prayed for it not to rain, and it did not rain. Later, he prayed for rain, and it rained. Hannah prayed for a son (I Samuel 1:11), and God blessed her with Samuel, as well as giving her other children. Hezekiah prayed that he might live longer, and God added 15 more years to his life (Isaiah 38:2-5). Numerous other examples could be given, but sometimes God answers prayer in a different way. He does not always grant us our specific request.
Many people feel that if God does not give us the things for which we have prayed, then He has not answered those prayers. But sometimes God’s answer is “No.” Fathers cannot always give their
children the things they want. Child-ren often ask their parents for things that would not be best to give to them. Most of us have lived long enough to thank God for not giving us what we asked Him to give us. As the song goes, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer.” Jesus and Paul were both told “No,” three times by God. We should not always expect a positive answer to our prayers. When we pray, we must trust God’s answer, even though, at the time, we may not like it.
Sometimes God’s answer to prayer is “Wait.” Zacharias and Elizabeth prayed for a child for several years before God gave them their son, John. But what a son he was! Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Zacharias and Elizabeth were rewarded for their persistence.
When we pray, we need to be persistent (Luke 11:5-10). When Abraham prayed for God to save Sodom, God agreed to save the city if he could find 50 righteous souls in it. Abraham asked God if He would save the city for 45, 40, 30, 20, and 10. Each time, God said He would. But then, Abraham stopped praying. Would God have spared the city for five, two, or even one? No one knows, because Abraham stopped asking.
Sometimes God answers prayer by giving something different. When Moses prayed to enter the Promised Land, God would not grant his request, but He did allow Moses to view the land. When God gave Solomon the opportunity to ask for anything he wanted, Solomon prayed for an understanding heart to judge God’s people. I Kings 3:12 says that God gave him a wise and understanding heart greater than anyone else, whether they lived before or after him. But God also gave him riches and honor greater than any other king would ever have. So, Solomon received more than he requested.
At times, God answers prayers by changing us. If we pray for fewer problems, God may give us more strength to deal with our problems. Perhaps we should pray for broader shoulders, rather than an easier load. When we pray, we should be willing to change. If God changes us, it will always be for the better.
Just remember that God is always in control. Our awesome God makes prayer extremely powerful. We should always be willing to submit to Him. I John 3:22 says, “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” Make prayer a part of your daily routine.