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It's such a relief that some of our prayers don't get answered, even though we might not think so at the time.
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Why are some Prayers Answered and Some not?
3 min script
I have a friend that I worked with, who, when I was with him saw many answered prayers, particularly for sick people. But not everyone was healed. I asked him one day, ‘why is it some are not healed and some are?’ I have never forgotten the answer, he said, ‘lots of people ask me why some are not healed, and do you know what my problem is? Why is it that some are healed, why does God answer prayer?’ In other words he was saying he was as puzzled by the answers as much by the non-answers if you like.
Sometimes prayer can be dangerous, particularly answered prayer, because that puts us on the spot. If you think about it, there are lots of times when God answered prayer in scripture that actually God didn’t want to answer. There isn’t time in such a brief chat to go into them in detail, but if you know a bit about scripture you can see them there. For example, God did not want Israel to have a King, but they kept asking and in the end he answered their prayer, and then the problems came! Then there was another King who God told, ‘put your house in order you are going to die.’ He begged God in prayer for more time, God answered his prayer but oh what problems his lengthened life gave to everybody else! There are lots of other stories I could tell you from scripture that are like that, so be careful of nagging God for an answer, especially if God has said it’s not a good idea.
I have a little phrase that fits well with prayer, it goes like this, ‘God will not do what you can do, and if you want God to do what he can do then do what you can do and you will find that he will then do what only he can do.’ Now please don’t make that into some kind of doctrine as God might just do something that you haven’t even thought of. I do often find people are praying for things that they could do themselves. For example, ‘Dear God please send my friend that small amount of money that he needs,’ when actually they have that money and maybe they should just give it them anyway and say ‘thank you God that you have given me money that I can now pass on to my friend.’
One of the stories from scripture that I think illustrates this well is the story of Nehemiah, he prays ‘oh God the walls of Jerusalem are broken down, it is such a shame, do something.’ He then goes in to see the King because he was the King’s cup-bearer, and the king gives him God’s answer, ‘why are you so miserable?’ he says to Nehemiah, a very bad thing for a cup-bearer to be, maybe the King’s wine was poisoned and he was not saying. But obviously the King trusted Nehemiah, its good when people of the living God can be trusted. Nehemiah told the king what he had been praying about and the King says, ‘okay, off you go and build the walls up, and I will supply the money and the materials.’ I bet that was not the answer that Nehemiah expected when he said the prayer. I do find though that often God will say, ‘okay, heard your prayer, now get on with the answer and I am with you!’ Scary stuff praying isn’t it?
The thing is that God is with us, and I recon that he knows us better than we know ourselves and so when he tells us to be the answer or part of the answer then also we should know that he is not leaving us alone. I remember when I left college to take charge of a church community, I said, ‘God I don’t mind where you would like me to go, but please, if you don’t mind, I don’t want to go to Ireland or London.’
After five years in the North of England the opportunity came for me to move to London, I wondered if God had forgotten my prayer, but I decided to go and have a look anyway, and then I decided to give it a try and so we moved to London. I’ve been in London now for 36 years and can’t really imagine being anywhere else. I just have this feeling that God knows me better than I know myself. I am sure he was not forcing anything on me, but actually saying, ‘I know Adrian, if he just tries to do this with me he is going to enjoy it, I know he thinks he won’t but let’s just see shall we.’ And of course God is right. Sure, praying can have that dangerous edge to it, when God says, ‘okay you have prayed, now I want you to be the answer to that prayer, but I am with you and because I am with you nothing will be impossible to you, and you are going to really feel actual enjoyment doing it for me and with me.’
6 for UCB
Editor A Brookes.
Editor A Brookes.