Cross Points 6.4.21

Talking to God:  Prayers Ultimate Answer

In this series I’ve written a lot about the frustrations we can feel when praying, and how God accepts prayers of frustration as we struggle with life’s complications.  I’ve written about how we don’t and can’t always understand why God seems to make some exceptions with miraculous type answers to prayers, and other times (most times) allows the natural consequences of things to play out.  I’ve written about how God providentially works within the realm of nature’s laws at times, through the doctors or the counselors or the bodies ability to mend itself.  When this happens, he still gets the credit, since the positive wonders of the natural world only exist by the hand of God, as do the doctors skills, etc.  I’ve written about how our prayers are better focused on the unselfish things of partnering with God, praying for workers of the harvest, for evangelistic success, for strength to keep our faith during the trials of life and the temptations of Satan.  Yes, we want to be healthy, we want to enjoy the many good things God’s world offers, but there is no guarantee of these things as sin strikes it’s blows on us.

So, where does that leave us?  In Philip Yancey’s book on this subject, he says “Prayer means opening myself to God and not limiting God through my own preconceptions.  In sum, prayer means letting God be God.”  It’s less about tapping God the problem solver, and more about yielding humbly to him, seeking his way no matter what life brings.  That’s not always easy, I know.  “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits; and in his Word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,” says Psalm 130:5, 6.  Anxiously, we wait.  While we wait, we seek his way, praying for guidance as we stay close to his Word.
No, it’s not always easy, but when our focus truly is on being a disciple, above enjoying “the American dream” with all it encompasses, it brings perspective.  Think about Paul’s words to the Philippians, where he says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Now consider the context of Paul’s words.  He’s been beaten, stoned to the point of thinking him dead, spent much time in prison, had a “thorn in the flesh” that God did not remove as he asked in prayer, has been shipwrecked, been debated at every turn.  Life has not been a “job with benefits and good retirement plan” for him.  In fact, he is in prison, probably in chains, when he writes these words!  But his life is God-centered, God-directed, and he looks for the opportunity with every turn of event.  We need such a perspective.

The trouble is, we struggle to gain such a perspective.  It’s been said, “For every soul that exclaims ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth,’ there are ten others that cry out, ‘Hear Lord, for thy servant speaketh.’”  We need to speak, we need to be honest with God, yes, but once done, we need to slow down and listen for the still small voice of he who calls us to himself.
Will he answer every prayer like we want?  No.  But here’s what he’s done, and what he’ll do.  He sent Jesus as our perfect sacrifice, the answer to sin’s problem.  He provides his Spirit to live within us as we yield to him as disciples, guided by the words of Jesus, the apostles, and the precepts of scripture. And remember the promise Jesus made, that he goes to prepare a place for us.  Can you fathom this place?  What it contains can only be imagined, but we have hints.  Jesus in Revelation 21 tells us of a new heaven and new earth.  A restored earth, like it was at the time of Eden in the beginning.  I imagine all the positive works of nature along with all the positive works of man, enhancing this place, providing untold riches to enjoy for eternity.  But what this place does not have is just as important.  No more tears, no more pain, no more crying, and no more death.  “The former things have passed away” we are told.  We are only left to cry out, “Lord, you heard!  Lord, you have answered all my prayers.”
Cross Point: “And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  You always hear me, but for these people standing around, that they may believe.’  Then he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!”  After all life’s trials, God will call us from the grave too.  Follow him & your prayers will be answered!

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