Tag Archives: answers to prayer

Astonished? Why? (Acts 11-12)

The believers were being persecuted. King Herod had arrested many, and even had Jesus’ disciple James, put to death because James preached about Jesus. Peter was arrested and was imprisoned with a death sentence over his own head.

Many believers got together to pray. We find them in the home of Mary the mother of John Mark, no doubt pleading with God during this scary time. We don’t read their words, but I imagine they prayed for God’s mercy, His protection, His will to be done in their situation. I imagine they prayed specifically for Peter, “God, please spare his life, undertake on his behalf, save him from Herod’s evil plan.”

While they were praying, they heard a knock on the door. Rhoda, a little servant girl, went and probably put her ear to the door. She whispered, “Who’s there?” Peter, no doubt with his own ear up to the door whispered back, “It’s me! Peter!”

Rather than opening the door and letting Peter into the house, Rhoda rushed back and interrupted the prayer meeting. “Peter is here,” she exclaimed. The praying believers responded:

“Impossible!”

“You’re crazy!”

“It must be his angel, which means they’ve killed him!”

Rhoda kept insisting, Peter kept knocking, until someone from the prayer group went to open the door and see for himself.

There stood Peter! Their prayers had been answered, but Scripture tells us they were astonished. They couldn’t believe their eyes, yet they had been praying for that very thing. There before them stood the answer to their prayers, yet they were astonished.

Jesus Himself had told them, “Have faith in God… Therefore I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:22,24)

Jesus also said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

I wonder how many times I have prayed to God for something, but somewhere in the back of my brain I don’t think He’ll answer that prayer. I know many people are praying these days that God will turn this country around, that people will return to God and that He will restore our land. But I wonder if we really believe He will.

I also wonder how many times God has answered a prayer of mine, and I was astonished to see it. Should it surprise me when God is faithful to His Word?

I am challenged today to pray believing. I am challenged to pray specifically for people and situations, to tell God what is really on my heart. I am challenged to trust Him with the outcome, and to be looking for His answer so I don’t miss it. And I am challenged to pray in His name, with the intent that the answer to my prayers would glorify Him and draw people to the cross.

I will pray, “God help us. God defeat Satan in our government, in our society, and in our churches and homes. God take away this virus. God heal the unrest, send a revival, open eyes and unite us as one nation under God.”

And I will be listening for that knock on the door, expecting God to hear and answer my prayers for Jesus’ sake and for His glory. Seeing answers to my prayers might blow me away, but I never want those answers to surprise me.

Be Still For A Minute (Habakkuk)

Habakkuk couldn’t believe God was going to use the wicked Babylonians to punish Israel for rejecting God. The prophet prayed that God would send a revival, that God would spare the Jews from impending doom.

But God seemed to be quiet. Habakkuk had some questions and wanted to know the answers. You can almost hear the frustration in his voice.

So when God finally answered, He started out by saying, “Pay attention, Habakkuk. Write this down, then share what I tell you with everyone.” God proceeded to remind Habakkuk of the sin in Israel: Pride. Greed. Thievery. Victims and Oppressors. Cheats. Dishonesty. Violence. Drunkenness. Murder. Idolatry.

But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (2:20) A Holy God cannot tolerate sin of any kind, and sin was running rampant in Israel. You want answers? Then you’ve got to be still for just a minute and listen.

Habakkuk had to admit that whatever came, Israel deserved. But he also reminded God of His mercy in the past, and believing God continues to be merciful, Habakkuk said this:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (3:18)

Folks, we deserve the unrest in this country. Can you say we are not guilty of every one of those sins God pinpointed when he spoke with Habakkuk? I’m not talking about the USA as a whole. I’m talking about Christians in the USA. Do you see yourself in any of those sins? One is too many. Are there people you know who call themselves Christians, yet hold on to sin in their lives? That’s the problem.

Once again I am convinced God is calling us to repentance. Not a big evangelistic movement where unsaved people come to know Him by the thousands. I don’t believe God “sends” revival. I think revival comes when individuals confess their sin and repent, when lives are changed and we walk with God. I believe God is calling Christians to confess our sins, to get right with Him, to stop blending in with the world and start to stand apart, to call sin sin and demand purity in each other.

We serve a Holy God. And if we are not holy, He will not bless. I know from Scripture that if we humble ourselves, He will hear and heal our land. If the Church (that’s you and me) gets right with God, this unrest will cease. There will be unsaved people coming to know Jesus, perhaps by the thousands.

But maybe it’s time we are still for a moment, that we have that private conversation with God, that we go to Him on His terms, and reignite a personal relationship with Him. There are so many things vying for our attention these days, maybe it’s time we turn off the TV and open our Bibles and quietly allow God to reveal Himself again.

I pray each of us will be still, and ask God to reveal sin in our lives so that we can repent. I pray each of us will quiet our hearts, and know God in Truth. My prayer is that we all will take responsibility for each other. How can we convince a non-believer they have to confess their sins if we we don’t demand the same of our Christian brothers and sisters?

I think this country is heading for disaster. You and I, Christian, are the only ones standing in the gap. What are you going to do about it?

4,000,000 answers to prayer

I just want to say something about COVID 19. The virus is credited with taking about 152,000 lives here in the States. Most of those deaths were from underlying medical conditions complicated by the virus. But whether it’s one or 152,000, it is tragic when someone dies.

Many of us are praying that God will stop the spread of what we have come to regard as a deadly plague. We cry out that God would have mercy and heal us. Some question why God hasn’t put a stop to it already.

But yesterday as I was praying I felt God remind me that there are 4 MILLION people who have been healed of this virus. 4 MILLION answers to prayer. Where is our praise for that?

I’m not suggesting we stop praying about this disease. I pray not one more death will come as a result of the virus’ complications, and I am certainly not minimizing the loss of lives connected to COVID 19. But even as we pray for healing, let’s not neglect to praise our merciful God who has spared the lives of millions during the past few months.

When the “powers that be” try to throw fear into us, let’s rest in the merciful God we serve. Let’s praise God for 4,000,000 answers to prayer.

Just Stop Talking! (Isaiah 30)

My mother underlined the following from verses in this chapter:

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (vs 15)

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him. (vs 18)

How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. (19)

This is the way. Walk in it. (vs 21)

I just watched a briefing conducted by Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. She was answering a question posed by a reporter who continued to talk during the answer. At one point you could hear the reporter ask, “Why aren’t you answering my question?” to which the Press Secretary replied something like, “You obviously are not interested in hearing my answer when you continue to talk over me.”

Now I wonder if we don’t do the same thing to God. The verses Mom underlined remind me that God answers prayer. He does tell us exactly what we need to know. When we cry for help, He always answers.

But sometimes we don’t want to hear the answers so we just keep on talking, keep on praying, keep on asking questions already answered. Sometimes we are so busy telling God what we think the answers should be, we stop listening to what the answers are.

These verses remind me there is strength and trust in quietness. It reminds me that if I am paying attention, God will always say: “Here is the way. Walk in it.” It encourages me to wait for Him because He longs to be gracious to me.

If only I would learn to be quiet, to just stop talking, and listen.

 

May 5; Answers Worthy of Praise

2 Samuel 23:20b-39, 8:15-18, 7:1-29; I Chronicles 11:22-47, 18:14-17, 17:1-27

Like many of us I think, the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to reach for my phone. I did a quick scroll through FB, checked the weather, and opened my email. I was pleasantly surprised to see a notice that a blogger I follow, posted something today. She has not done that for a while, so I took time to read what she wrote. It’s a thoughtful, honest look at prayer, especially those prayers that are answered with a “No.” If you get a chance, check it out at karinasussanto.wordpress.com. It’s entitled, “When The Answer Is “No.”

Anyway, I was already thinking about prayer when I read today’s Scripture and was once again challenged by David’s. The king wanted to build a home for the Ark of God. David wanted to give God a dwelling place He deserved. But when God clearly said, “No,” David prayed, “Ok. Thank you for blessing me in other ways.”

We Christians pray. God wants us to bring our requests to Him. Our prayers are a sweet perfume to Him. However, prayer is not something we do to get what we want. Prayer is something we do to get what God wants for us.

As a parent, did you always give your children everything they asked for? If you say you did, shame on you! Sometimes a parent just knows giving in to every whim is not what’s best for a child. Like a four year old wanting a 22 shotgun. A parent probably knows that isn’t the best gift for the child. A child who loves alligators, and wants a pet alligator, should probably hear Mommy and Daddy say, “No.” Even if a tantrum follows.

It’s hard to accept when we lay out our requests and hear God say, “No.” I can’t think David liked hearing that he would not build that temple. It had been his heart’s desire. But David thanked God anyway.

And so should we. God really does know what’s best. And He really wants to give us His best. We just need to trust Him, and praise Him when He blesses us in other ways.

And He always blesses us in other ways.

I am reminded that God doesn’t deny our requests because He doesn’t want us to be happy. If He denies our requests, it’s because He has something better in mind for us, something more wonderful than we can know at the time. We can thank Him for the “No” because we can trust Him.

So pray. Ask God for you heart’s desire. He might give it to you, or He might say, “No.  But know this: His answer will always be worthy of your praise.

 

April 17; Expectation

Psalms 5,34,59,133; I Samuel 21:1-15, 22:1-5; I Chronicles 12:8-18

How is your prayer life? I have some dear friends who are true prayer warriors. They can pray for hours at a time, and to hear them pray out loud is like overhearing a conversation between intimate friends. No flowery words. Just heart-felt communication between them and God.

I’ve confessed that I struggle with my prayer life. I want to be a warrior. But I continually fall short. Oh, I pray. Sometimes hundreds of times a day as God brings someone or something to mind. But I have never prayed for hours at a time. I run out of things to say. My mind goes to things I should be doing. I’m a work in progress.

But this morning I feel like God has lifted a bit of the guilt I’ve carried about that. He seems to be pointing me to how I pray – not how long I pray. The question comes to mind, “Do you really believe I will hear and answer your prayers, Connie? Do you trust me?”

David was one that could pour his heart out to God, to lay it all out there, and trust God with the answers. David prayed for specific requests concerning life events. He prayed prayers of confession, and often on behalf of the people. Sometimes David prayed the same request more than once.

But I think what I noticed today is David’s faith. He presented his requests to God, then left them there. I love Psalm 5:3.

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

David didn’t just wait for God to answer his prayers. He waited expectantly. Every day.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Instead of beating myself up for the lack of discipline, or the length of my prayers, I’m going to pray about the things God lays on my heart. I want Him to hear my voice every morning. And then, I want to look for the answers to my prayers throughout the day, expecting the evidence to be there.

If you are one who has a disciplined prayer life, please pray on. We need your prayers. And I hope one day to join you in that kind of praying. But for now God is going to hear my voice every morning, without me looking at a clock. And then I will wait in expectation for Him to answer.

I Samuel 21-23; Why Wait?

Are you like me and, no matter which line you get in at the grocery, it seems the person in front of you will most likely need a price-check? All the other cashiers are moving their customers along while you stand there and wait. Again.

Don’t you always look forward to catching up with year-old People magazines while you wait an hour past your appointment time in the doctor’s office? Come on. You know you love it.

Most of us, if not all of us, don’t wait well, do we? Sometimes standing in front of the microwave for 90 seconds seems too long to wait. But there certainly seems to be a lot of waiting in the Bible. What is God trying to tell us?

David was anointed King of Israel way back in chapter 16. Yet here in the chapters we read today, Saul is still Israel’s acting king. And to make matters worse, Saul is following David all over the countryside, trying to kill him. I’d rather have the People magazines.

If God wanted David to be king, why was all of this happening? Why is David still on the run instead of sitting on the throne that was his?

I think about the years David spent hiding out from Saul, living in caves, running for his life. And I thank God that, during that difficult time, David penned some of the most heart-felt psalms that speak to hearts yet today. I can read these chapters in God’s Word and see the shepherd boy grow in wisdom and faith to become a very great king.

David wasn’t anointed king, then sat back and waited in the comforts of home until the kingdom was his. There was pain and suffering and loss in the waiting. But David was the king he was – not in spite of – but because of those waiting years.

Are you getting impatient waiting for God’s timing in some matter? I would encourage you to not resent the waiting. God is most likely trying to teach you some things, trying to grow you into the person He wants you to be as you serve Him in this lifetime.

Don’t just put your feet up while you wait. Feast on your daily bread, and pick up your sword. There are things to do, places to go, people to see.

Remember God’s timing is perfect. And He does all things well.

August 2 – When God’s Not Listening

Isaiah 59-63

Have you ever felt your prayers aren’t getting any higher than the ceiling, that God is too busy to hear your requests, or that God was unable to give you the desires of your heart? There might be a reason for that.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (59:1-2)

If you think God is ignoring you, you may be right.

Your unconfessed sin drives a wedge between you and God, it produces a distance caused by you. God doesn’t owe you anything. You, on the other hand, owe Him everything.

If God seems far away, or uncaring, remember “YOUR iniquities have made a separation… YOUR sins have hidden His face…”

I know that God delights in fellowship with His children. He’s there. He’s waiting. He’s eager to forgive. If you are feeling the distance between you, ask yourself if there is something you need to confess.

I promise you, He’ll be listening.