Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

prayerWe couldn’t believe our friend had a massive cancerous tumor at the age of 39. But our church and friends prayed round the clock and believed for his healing so that his three young children could grow up with their dad.

He fought the cancer bravely and the presence of God could be felt. There was a peace, strong faith and persistent prayer on his behalf.

He had been a marathon runner and when he died, he told his wife, he saw Jesus running to him in a field ready to take him home. His death was peaceful. The presence of God was powerful. But we were devastated. We knew God could heal. Why didn’t He answer our prayer? Our faith for his healing couldn’t have been stronger.

Many times in life, we contend with this question, “Does God answer prayer?” It doesn’t always seem like He does. But His perspective is not ours. He knows the big picture, sees how the parts interact with the whole and knows how to use even bad things for good. God does answer prayer, but He can do it in five ways:

1) God answers YES and wonders what took you so long to ask? He is waiting on us to bring our requests to Him. Scripture tells us to ask, to bring our petitions to God (Phil 4:6- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.. ). God wants us to ask. He’s waiting to answer.

2) God answers YES and blesses even more than we can imagine. Sometimes the answers to prayer feel overwhelming–someone is healed, brought to Christ, restored, etc. This builds our faith and we are thankful that our God answers prayers in a way that seems immediate and responsive to our request. This is why it is important to share our stories of answered prayer with one another–it builds our faith.

3) God answers YES, but not in the way we expect. Prayer wasn’t answered in  a way we understand or even how we thought it should go. Because the answer doesn’t come in the way we expect,this requires our trust. When my friend wasn’t healed and died, it felt like unanswered prayer, but we can’t go by feelings. We trust Him that He knows best. It isn’t that He didn’t hear, He didn’t do what we said the way we presented it.

4) God answers NO because He loves us  too much. It’s not that God doesn’t hear us, but He has the whole picture and knows what is best. This again requires faith and trust in our Father who is for us, not against us. Many times I can look back at a direction I thought best and prayed for, and then was so thankful that God knew best and didn’t answer me the way I presented.

5) No, not yet. The  timing is not what we anticipate so it feels like a giant NO. I learned this through dealing with 7 years of infertility. But when God answered, it was right and better than I could have anticipated. His timing may not feel perfect, but it is. And when it feels like God takes too long, we don’t understand the way He is orchestrating everything behind the scenes so we have to trust.

Our job is to pray and God’s is to be God–answer in the way He sees is best for our lives. Approaching God this way doesn’t put Him in a box and make you His puppeteer. Instead, we believe God to champion us in the way He knows best.

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