"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
God answers the prayers of His people:
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! (Matt.
How then do we harmonize these passages with occasions in Scripture when people say God did not answer prayer? For example, when Jesus prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” did God fail to answer him since he died on the cross (Matt. 26:39)? When David was being pursued by his enemies and he cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent,” did God fail to answer David’s prayers (Psa. 22:1-2)? When Paul begged the Lord three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” did his prayers go unanswered by his God (2 Cor. 12:8)? If God answers prayer, why didn’t He grant these requests?
The Scriptures bear out that the answer to each of the preceding questions is a resounding “NO!” God did not fail to answer their prayers. David went on to write, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when he (the afflicted, i.e., David, jrp) cried to Him, He heard” (Psa. 22:24). This would later be applied to Jesus, who was himself also heard in the garden “because of his godly fear” (Heb. 5:7). Paul received an answer from the Lord that magnified God’s grace in him (2 Cor. 12:9). God most certainly answers the prayers of His people.
The issue is not a failure by God to answer prayer. The issue is this; when people do not get the answer to prayer they think they should receive, they conclude God did not answer their prayer. This is faulty reasoning that betrays a weakness of faith. To say one did not get the answer he wanted is not to say that God did not answer the prayer. We have offered three Bible examples (above) that establish this point.
More to the point, why is it God does not always answer our prayers as soon as we want and always in the way we expect? How do Christians maintain their faith in God when prayers are answered differently than they expected?
Like children’s requests to their parents, our requests to God are often short-sighted. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the request; we just fail to see the big picture of things. But, when a six year old asks for candy and a coke 30 minutes before dinner, he gets an answer to his request, but not the one he wants. Why not? (After all, he asked for it!) Not because parents begrudge their child treats, but because they want him to eat the upcoming meal. Similarly, God gives good gifts to His children who ask of Him (Matt. 7:11). But like children, we do not always see clearly; God does. He knows what is best for us. He did not begrudge Paul improved health when He did not remove the thorn in his flesh; He saw a greater benefit for Paul and for others by not removing it. Paul would learn greater dependency and humble reliance on God’s grace and power. God’s assurance that He answers prayer encourages our spiritual interests and growth of faith. We know God hears us and that His answers grow out of His great love for us. God will give us what is best for us. What a loving and patient God we have, to respond to our requests this way! We must not be like the whining child who, because he gets a different answer from the one he wants, says, “You don’t love me!” Loving parents give their children what is best for them even when the child does not understand at the moment. God will more abundantly give to those who ask Him (Matt. 7:11). He answers with divine wisdom and immeasurable love.
David was perplexed over the apparent silence of God when his enemies were harassing him. But, he remembered the holiness of God and took comfort in God’s sure presence and power (Psa. 22:3-5). Someone said if God has a fault it is that He is too slow to act. No, God is faultless; He is not too slow to act. It is our faulty expectation that God must conform to our time frame that makes us think God is slow to act. David chose to remember the history of his fathers and the deliverance God gave them from their oppressors. Sometimes many years passed before God’s deliverance came; sometimes, even centuries. But, God heard their cries and knew their pain; He answered their prayers according to His purposes (Exo. 3:7-10).
What part of God’s character did David focus on as he recalled God’s deliverance of Israel? He focused on the holiness of God (Psa. 22:3). God would not be holy and ignore the cries of His people. It is reprehensible to think of parents who deliberately ignore their children’s cries for help when they are in trouble. Could God refuse to respond to the cries of Israel and still be a holy God? Could He, who had made great promises to their ancestors, now ignore their hardships? No; not and maintain His integrity. One reason we have no doubt God hears and answers our prayers is because He is a holy God. We know He acts in holiness. We know that regardless of the answer we receive from Him, His holiness is at the heart of it. When measured as we count time, the delay in answer may appear to speak against the holiness of God. But, when measured against eternity and our need to grow in faith and reliance upon God, we achieve a new and better perspective. The Scriptures affirm that God speedily avenges His elect who cry to Him day and night (Lk. 18:7-8). But, He is also looking for faith in times of trial (Lk. 18:8; Jas. 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-9). Will the Lord find us continuing to pray in faith in moments of trial, or find us abandoning hope and accusing Him of not caring for us or for justice (Lk. 18:1-5)?
We must not
become discouraged when God’s answers do not conform to the answers we want
or anticipate. This does not mean God has forsaken us; it means God knows
and cares more for us than we are able to know and care for ourselves!
When we are tempted to doubt God’s love, presence and power because our prayers seem to go unanswered, remember that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 Jno. 5:14-15). Praying with respect for and submission to the will of God assures good answers to our prayers. The answers may challenge our faith, but they will always be right.
A popular song in the ’90’s said, “Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers…” But the Christian confidently says, “I always thank God for answering my prayers out of His holiness, His wisdom and His love for me. I know that He hears all my prayers and always answers them in His time, according to His purposes and for my good.” Our faith is this: “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me; O My Strength, hasten to help Me! (Psalm 22:19)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 8:4-13
1. The gospel came
from God, not man, Gal. 1:11-12.
I. WHEN HE PREACHED CHRIST, PHILIP PREACHED ABOUT:
A. The Kingdom
of God, 8:12 (Matt. 6:33).
II. MANY NOT CONTENT WITH PREACHING CHRIST TODAY, Gal. 1:8-10; 1 Cor. 4:6. Which gospel do we want: Christ’s gospel, or…
A. The “No
Kingdom Gospel,” Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4.
1. Preach, receive,
obey & defend 1st gospel, Ac 8:12
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:18-25
1. Marriage faces
withering attacks in our society.
I. THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE, Gen. 2:18-25.
A. Ordained by
God, Matt. 19:4-6.
II. DESIGNED FOR SUCCESS, Gen. 2:24 (Matt. 19:5-6).
A. Marriage is
Permanent (leave) (for life, Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39).
III. BUILD UNBREAKABLE MARRIAGE, Eccl. 9:9
Yourself, 2 Cor. 13:5.
1. Satan wants to
destroy your love, marriage & home…your soul (Jas. 4:7).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA