Answers to Prayer
By Brian V. Brown
Luke 18:1-8 NIV Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’?
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth??
Dr Luke, recording the teaching of Jesus in his Gospel, writes of Jesus encouraging His disciples to pray and not give up. So, if an unjust judge will answer the widow’s request, how much more will God, who is perfectly just, answer our requests.
Hands up, those who have never had a problem or difficulty that they haven’t been able to sort out. Hmmm, I thought so. We all have, and have had, problems. At school (maybe bullied), at home, with our friends or relatives, maybe sickness, financial troubles, problems because of our past life, difficulties with relationships perhaps. Sometimes we have been able to see the problem through on our own. Sometimes not. Perhaps with the help of others; friends, family, professionals; the problem has been resolved. It may have taken some time for the difficulty to resolve itself. Maybe, humanly speaking, it cannot be sorted.
What do you do in these kinds of situations? Panic? Go to pieces? Shrug things off? Just ignore them? Or do you bring them to God and ask His help.
That’s what He wants us to do. He is a loving Father and just longs to help us. He always has the answer; it may not be the one that we would like; and promises to help us.
In the Acts of the Apostles; another record by Dr Luke; shortly after the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and empowered them to preach the Gospel, Peter and John had been the channel through which healing virtue enabled a cripple to jump to his feet ‘walking and jumping and praising God’ (Acts 3:1-26 NIV, Acts 4:1-37 NIV). For this act of healing (and because they were proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus), Peter and John were seized and put into prison by the Sadducees and the temple guard.
The next day, they were brought before the Sanhedrin and were quizzed by the rulers, elders and teachers of the law. Peter then proclaimed the power of the Gospel. The leaders were flummoxed by this unschooled, ordinary man, who had performed a miracle, which nobody could deny, and so they were released but commanded not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Let’s read of what happened next . . .
Acts 4:23-31 NIV On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,? they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.
Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.?
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
The power of prayer was such that the place where they were meeting was shaken. What an incredible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, confirming that they were all moving in the plan and purpose of God. Such was the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the united fervency of those disciples, that they were in no doubt that God was with them, and would enable them to minister with power. Following the rest of the activities of those first disciples in the Acts of the Apostles, demonstrates the effectiveness of their actions.
What happens when something unexpectedly goes wrong? What’s the first words that are said? “Oh, my God? is often the expression. There may be other expletives of course, but let’s keep the tone down!
And this may well be said by people who would not claim to be particularly religious or Christian. Why would someone, who would not claim to be a Christian, use such an expression; “MyGod?? A large number of people in the UK do believe that there is a God; by one research (Tearfund), something like 67% of the total population. However, even the demons believe in the God of the Bible, and they shudder (James 2:19 NIV).
The difference, of course, between the Christian and those who just believe that there is a God, is that the Christian recognizes the saving power of Jesus’ death on the cross of Calvary. The Bible says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that the wages of sin is death. But (John 3:16 NIV), “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.? That’s the Gospel, the Good News, in a nutshell.
Jesus took our punishment; yours and mine; on the Cross and, if we believe that fact, then we are saved from the effect of our sin; eternal death. What would you rather have; eternal life of eternal death?
When we come to this realization; that our sin blocks a proper relationship with God; what do we (or what did we) do? We repent of our rebellion, ask God to forgive us and to do away with our past sins? Does He do it? Yes, it is the promise of the Word of God. The Old Testament prophet Micah says:
You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 NIV
Notice that what we have done is ask; that is, talk; that is, communicate with God. For his part, he has communicated with us. Communication is the key; and we often call that prayer! God wants, even requires, that we communicate with him. Any relationship is based on communication; don’t you agree?.
And Jesus says, ‘You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it’, John 14:14 NIV. Time and time again, in the New Testament, we read accounts of God’s intervention when the people prayed. Remember the account in Acts, where the disciples prayed and the place, where they were all praying, was shaken.
Praying is letting God know what is on our heart, so that God can work through our prayers.
I agree that sometimes God intervenes in situations without our praying, but it is His desire that we bring to Him our requests and for Him to respond. By not praying, we may be preventing God from responding.
Let me tell you about Sammie (I’ve changed all the names), a lovely 4-year old little boy. He is the grandson of our friend Hilary, and the son of Hilary’s daughter, Jenny. David is Sammie’s father. Hilary and Jenny are Christians, David is not.
Sammie was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. Everyone was devastated. We began to pray; we took it to our Fellowship, who also prayed. Hilary’s Church also prayed; Jenny’s Church also prayed.
Eventually, Sammie was taken for a 7-hour operation to remove the tumor, but the tumor was so big it took 10-hours. The prognosis was not good. But after the operation, he came round, recognized his mummy and daddy and said, “My head hurts.?
The cavity that was left after removing the tumor, began to fill with fluid; it required draining. Again, we all prayed; draining the fluid worked. Then there was a problem with the drain; again we prayed.
Again we saw progress. More problems; more prayer; more problems overcome. This seemed to go on for ages, but still we persisted in prayer.
David saw all this, and said to a friend that he recognized that it was the power of prayer that was bringing his son through. He could have said that, even without us praying, Sammie would have responded positively to the operation, but David saw that it was prayer really making a difference. Maybe God was getting David’s attention.
Sammie is not out of the woods yet; it is a long process; but the power of prayer, especially from so many faithful Christians, is allowing God’s hand to work.
Why is all this happening, why is Sammie going through so much suffering, why are his parents and grandparents hurting? I don’t know, I don’t understand. But I am convinced that by praying, we are bringing God into the situation so that He can do the impossible; Matthew 19:26 NIV “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.?
I could recount many times of instances of when God has responded to our prayers.
Sometimes the response was immediate, like the time our Fellowship prayed for the healing of Hilary’s mother, who was diagnosed with kidney stones, and that an immediate operation was necessary. Guess what, when the surgeons were about to operate, they found that the stones had disappeared!
At other times, like this instance with Sammie, God’s answer is more gradual; but, there is always an answer. Sometimes it is necessary for us to endure a situation, and here, God gives us the patience, or grace, necessary to get through.
I’m sure that there are many of you who can testify, to how God has worked in your lives, as an answer to prayer; it would be good for you to share these experiences with us. It is always good to hear of the goodness, mercy and compassion of our loving Father, and to offer Him praise and thanksgiving for all His benefits to us.
We don’t have all the answers, but our heavenly Father does. So we must communicate with Him, if necessary co-operate with Him, so that He is able to come to our aid.
May God bless you.
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