I am sure many ideas pop into your head...
Is one of them, "Do you really care about my prayers?" "Why are you not answering my prayers?" "I have been praying and it seems like you are not listening, why? Are you too busy? I know other things and other people are important but this is important too!"
Was Jesus exaggerating when He said, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matt 7:7) Or was Jesus saying every prayer prayed is answered?
Regularly we need reminders on how God answers every prayer.
1. Sometimes, God answers our prayer with a "No."
This is always the most difficult answer that we do not want. We want a "Yes." But, when we stop and remember that when Jesus asked His Heavenly Father to remove the cup of going to the cross, aren't we all glad God said "No" to Jesus? If God answered Jesus' prayer with a "No," then we need to hear God say to us, "No." Just like Garth Brooks' famous song, Thank God For Unanswered Prayers. Brooks' theology is a little off by the title but the heart of his lyrics are right on. The title should be, Thank God for His "No's."
Matt 26:39 Going a little farther, Jesus fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not my will, but as You will be done.”
2. Sometimes, God says, "Wait."
John 11:6 When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
By the time Jesus and His disciples got the Lazarus' home, Lazarus had been in tomb for four days. We, Americans, do not like to wait. We are an impatient people. We distain lines, traffic, being put on hold... How dare God not give us what we want...
Why does He respond with a "wait?"
He is more concerned about our lives, our character and our relationship with Him than our prayer request of help "I'm sick." "I'm in a financial challenge." "I'm in a relational battle." "I'm ..."
He is also working on all parties involved in the situation. This is mind boggling to say the least. But, let's remember, Rom 8:28 We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
3. Sometimes, God says, "Change."
James 4:1-3 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Here God reminds us that our motives matter. Our alignment with Jesus and His will matters. The changing of our minds, our character, our plans to fit in and join Jesus' plans matter.
As we pray, maybe Jesus is asking, "When are you going to join Me?"
"When are you going to care about the things that I care about?"
"When are you going to say, 'Not my will, but Your will be done?"
4. Sometimes, God says, "You Betcha!"
We love these responses from God.
I love and am haunted by Acts 12. There is the first heartbreaking martyr and this miraculous rescue.
Acts 12:2 James was put to death by the sword. Peter was arrested and put into prison. v 5 So, the church was earnestly praying to God for him. v 16 Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.
God loved to say "Yes" to the entire churches' prayer to rescue Peter.
God loves to say "Yes" to our prayers as well.
When has God said "Yes" to you lately? Do you have a list? How have you thanked Him? How have you let others know about God's personal "Yes?"
As you know, Southtown has been facing a "Buck Hill" Financial Challenge. We have a 4 step Godly plan...
1. Communicate the Financial Challenge.
2. Daily invite everyone to pray 3 fold prayer. (All Members and Regular Attenders to have a fresh passion for Jesus, fresh passion for each other and for God to use all of us to honor Him by cheerfully giving.)
3. Create and live on a Spending Less Plan.
4. Seek to get back on our agreed upon Giving Budget.
As we have been praying and learning about this challenge, God has been stirring and answering our prayers. He is not done yet...
Let's continue to pray. Let's continue to see how God is answering our prayers.