No this isn’t a formula prayer guide to get you health, wealth, and prosperity (Matthew 6:7). This is, I hope, some sound, biblical advise on prayer. First and foremost, please understand that there is no such thing as un-answered prayer in a believer’s life. When believers pray to the King of the Universe, He gives one of three answers: ‘yes;’ ‘no,’ or ‘wait.’
Often we don’t like the ‘no’ answer, or the ‘wait’ answer. If you’re like me, you probably want what you want when you want it. But Father knows best. The ‘wait’ answer is one of the tools God uses to spiritually mature us. The ‘wait’ answer builds character, patience and endurance (cf. James 1:2-5). The ‘wait’ answer, it should be no surprise, often comes in the midst of a trial. When times are tough, we need to wait and trust knowing that our God is faithful:
1) "Wait for the LORD and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land." Psalm 37:34
2) "But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
3) "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7
Few relish the ‘no’ answer. God’s timing is perfect timing (1 Peter 5:6). Part of the human condition, which includes the fallen condition, is our desire to have what we want. Often God has other plans and larger things in view. Job wanted answers. He got none. You and I are the beneficiaries of Job’s suffering. We know how the book ends. It is highly likely that Job died without understanding all that went on. As much as Job wanted answers, the Apostle Paul also wanted relief:
"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
God granted Paul the grace to accept His ‘no’ to Paul’s prayer for relief. Our Good and Gracious Lord will do the same for us (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). Chances are that you and I as human beings might have been more than a little disappointed to receive the same answer that Paul did. However, we can learn a lot from Paul’s response to ‘being turned down:’
"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Paul made God’s will his priority. He found contentment is being an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand. He was content to be a means of grace to others, bringing glory to God. He was glad, dare I say thrilled, to be in God’s service. May you and I cultivate this mindset, sooner than later.
But if you want a guaranteed ‘yes’ answer, then forget about what you want. Focus, instead, on what God’s will is. I can think of two ways to get a 'yes' answer. First, pray that God’s will be done in your life and in the lives of others:
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." 1 John 5:14-15
“He hears us” means He grants the request (1 John 5:14b). In such a case, we are seeking first His will and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). When we pray according to God’s will, we ultimately receive a ‘yes’ answer. That’s what 1 John 5:14-15 seems to be saying, anyway.
There is a second way to get a 'yes' answer. It is derived, to one extent or another, from the first way. We find it in the Psalms, we find it in Jesus’ ‘garden of Gethsemane prayer,’ and we find it throughout the Bible. What is it?
Ask God to do to you whatever He wishes and wills. Ask Him to ruin you financially if He so desires for His glory and others' good. Ask Him to strip away your health, your wealth, or prosperity---if you have these. Ask Him to display His glory in you, through you, to you, by you and with you in ways you could not have anticipated, or imagine to His glory and for other’s good---and your growth. Ask Him to grind your pride and self-will down to dust and powder so that you can be less like your old self and more like His Son. I believe it is safe to say, taking the whole context of Scripture into account, that if you pray these things, you will receive an abundance, of ‘yes’s’ to your prayer. Will you do this? After all, your Heavenly Father knows best. It’s not for the faint of heart. But remember, we receive from God so much better than we deserve (Romans 6:23).
Posted on Fri, September 25, 2015
by Sam Petitfils