Well, it’s been a topic of discussion in our home for days now … does prayer change things? or does it just change us? or both? or neither? or WHAT?? A lot of our discussions have ended with someone saying “I just don’t know..”
I’ve concluded (for today, anyway) that I cannot be the judge as to why someone’s prayers are answered or unanswered. Some people say that if a person is sick, it’s God’s will that they get well, and they use scripture to back up their thoughts. Some people say that if we pray for friends who are lost, that they will come to Christ. Some say to wives of lost husbands that if they (the wives) pray, that their husbands will notice their godliness and that God will honor that prayer and it will ultimately change their marriage and their spouses. One thing I have noticed about prayer in the bible is that the prayers are almost always about spiritual and eternal things, not temporal and material. Most of my prayers are about the temporal and material things, so that’s probably my biggest problem right there!!
Here’s the deal – I know (as much as I can know) some really godly, praying people who have had loved ones die before healing came. Some have lost loved ones who they think are in Hell and never came to know Christ. Some friends (and family) have gone through divorce, all the while praying for their spouse to find the joy of Christ – it didn’t happen. (Brent would be happier if I added “yet” onto this one – so ok, YET). Why weren’t these prayers answered? They seem to be selfless and godly prayers to me.
So my desire is just this … to keep praying, keep believing, and keep looking for God to work in my life to bring me closer to Him, whatever that means for me. For me, it means that sometimes there’s going to be sickness. It means that sometimes people I’m praying for will die without me having knowledge of them coming to Christ. It means that divorce will happen to people I love in the midst of me praying with all my heart that it won’t. Sometimes, my prayers will seem unanswered because God is doing something that is greater ultimately than what I see happening or not happening momentarily. I decided that really the thing that matters most to me is that I become more Christlike and bring glory to God … and that the people I love become more Christlike and bring glory to God. I’ve always thought that I knew how that would look in this life. I’ve now come to believe that I dont’ know. Sometimes God isn’t answering prayers the way I thought He would because, for my greater prayer to be answered, my other prayers won’t be right now.
I have also decided that I’m ok with the idea that my prayers might not be “right” (hindered by me) and so they are unanswered. Maybe I haven’t prayed enough. Maybe I gave up too soon. Maybe I don’t have enough faith. Maybe I have unconfessed sin in my life. It’s not that I think that my Father is some ogre, just waiting for me to be perfect before He answers my prayers. But when you collect all the verses about prayer and put them in one place and look at them really closely, many of them say that if we ask, God WILL give it to us…. mountains moving, demons cast out, healing, etc!! The only reasons that I see given in the Bible for unanswered prayer is that we ask with wrong motives, that our faith is not strong enough, or that we quit asking. (Some verses seem to “infer” that some prayers might not be within God’s will, but I’m not really clear on that one.) I am not saying that other’s prayers haven’t been answered because of something they have or have not done, but I just know that, for me, much of my prayer life has not been what it should or could be, and I want to become more of a warrior and less of a wimp!
So I’ve decided to quit blaming God for not “coming through” and start growing in my prayer life. In one of the conversations, Brent recently referred to modern day Christ followers as a “bunch of wimps” when it comes to perseverance (fasting and prayer). He included himself in that group, too. I do realize that the early church did not have the distractions that we have today. But somehow, we must have a movement of prayer today, even in the midst of the age we live in. I’m not sure how it’s supposed to look, but I’m pretty sure that as I look within the church of Jesus Christ right now, we aren’t there yet!
This is kind of a heavy post, I guess, but it’s what I’ve been meditating on and journaling about for a while…. so I shared it with you.