Cross Points 4.16.21

Talking to God:  Unanswered Prayers of You

Some unanswered prayers trace back to a fault in the one who prays.  Some unanswered prayers trace back to God’s respect for freedom and his unwillingness to coerce.  Some unanswered prayers trace back to dark powers of Satan contending with God’s rule on earth. Some unanswered prayers trace back to the impact of sin in this world, through disease, violence, and accidents.  When unanswered prayers, realize these factors are at play.
As just stated in the previous Cross Point, even Jesus had unanswered prayers.  Think about just one example, the events leading up to his crucifixion.  He prayed in the garden for God to allow this cup to pass from him.  God did not answer that prayer in the affirmative.  Then he turned to his friends, needing their support, and they were asleep, later they would run.  Then he is taken to the religious leaders, surely, they will help.  You know they didn’t.  They falsely accuse him.  Then the government gets involved through Herod and Pontious Pilate.  They sentence him to death.  Finally, all those people whom Jesus had helped; he is brought before the crowd.  They shout out, “Crucify, crucify!”  “Is that your answer to my prayer?” we might have said in his place.  Little wonder we find Jesus crying out while in anguish, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!”  But God’s will came as he held back.

C.S. Lewis has said, “If an infinitely wise Being listens to the requests of finite and often foolish or naïve creatures of course he will sometimes grant and sometimes refuse such requests.”  
Never-the-less we struggle when our prayers go unanswered.  If Jesus had said, “When you pray, sometimes God will hear and answer, other times he will not, he’s very busy,” we would have understood.  But when his actual words read like these, it makes it tough: “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt… you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Mark 11:22-23).  So, we question our faith.  Maybe, instead, we’ve taken what Jesus said out of context.  When you look at Mark 11, you’ll find that Jesus says this when commenting on the fig tree he had cursed, and this was done in the twelve’s presence.  Obviously, the apostle’s had abilities Jesus conferred upon them that you and I don’t have.  Maybe this statement was not directed to all followers, just them.

But then, even the apostles had prayers that went unanswered.  They pray for the church’s maturity, they pray for unity, for gospel messengers to get it right, and yet they write to immature churches who lack unity and who preach a gospel that denies Jesus came in the flesh.  As history progresses it gets worse.  Sometimes persecution comes as one church group condemns another.  We must realize that to have the success we desire in prayer, our prayers must come from people who truly abide in Christ, who obey His commands, and who are perfectly aligned with His will.  None of us can claim that.  Our perspective is too narrow.  The person who works in such close partnership with God that he or she grows in the ability to discern what God wants to accomplish on earth, and then prays accordingly, will find much fulfillment, but not all the time.  As we mature, as we gradually learn from God’s Word, we get closer, but there will be some lacking until God reveals things to us in heaven.
All said, we still struggle when we want what we are sure God wants, and yet it does not happen as we pray for it.  For sickness to be healed, for disabilities to be gone, for accidents to be avoided, for relationships to be fulfilling, for the non-believing debater to be convinced by the evidence, even for the church to function as God wants.  Too often, it just doesn’t happen.  And yet we pray.  God wants us to pray.  We need to pray.  Are you praying?

All the frustrations of life that result in unanswered prayers come about because of the sinful world we live in.  The sickness, the accidents, the broken relationships, certainly death.  Every time such things happen they should turn us back to God, not because he will grant our every wish, but because only he provides the ultimate answer to these things through Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life.  Patience is needed while heaven awaits us.
Cross Point: Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Rev. 21 says, “the dwelling place of God is with man…he will wipe away every tear, and death shall be no more.”
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