ALLOW GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYER
D. P. Titus
When we in awesome wonder consider God as able to receive prayers and praises of all mankind at one time, without having problems of network, language, line busy, on-hold, switched off, or the like, we cannot but joyously join the heavenly chorus and sing "How great Thou art, How great Thou art!"
Ask, says this God, and adds, you will receive (Matt. 7:7). Ask whatsoever and it shall be done unto you (Jn. 15:7). Ask anything in My Name and I will do it (Jn. 14:13). The Lord would also remind us, you do not have, because you do not ask (Jas. 4:2).
"Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what pain we needless bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer."
Ask for What?
Ask for your daily bread, taught Jesus in the Lord's prayer. But how sincerely may we use this prayer for bread, if our pantry store is already full of the nicest of eatables, enough for many weeks. A Hindu saint, Swami Rama Teertha of Garhwal, supplied the answer saying, one can sincerely pray so, despite all things found in his store, if he would realise that everything stored in his house really belongs to the Lord, from whom we must obtain day after day.
Ask for wisdom, says Scripture (Jas. 1:5). "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all generously." Ask for some land to cultivate, if you are a farmer not having enough. So did a very ordinary lad named Jabez, a so-called layman, whose prayer was granted (1 Chro. 4:9-10).
Ask for anything - for a house to dwell, for a job, for marriage, or whatever. Our heavenly Father is very rich; for all diamond, gold and silver belong to Him. With Him nothing is impossible, provided our asking is according to His will. Long time ago, I was speaking at a slum house mission in the city of Tampa, offering some such thoughts. Most of the people present were addicts, alcoholics or jobless. At least one among the audience responded to the call of the Gospel that hour. By a sheer chance (or divine providence) he met me next morning about 10, in the busy marketplace downtown. He was well-dressed and happy, and volunteered to greet me "Good morning!," adding further, "You do not recognise me, but I was present at the lunch meeting yesterday, at the slum house. I believed what I heard and instantly made up my mind to give up alcohol for good. You do not know where I am going this moment. I am an engineer by trade and going to join my new job..." I felt exceedingly happy for this rewarding contact, a day previous to my departure from the city. (Almost all slum missions keep such job openings ready for those who change). Even if all slum dwellers in the world might turn to God as this man did, the dear God will have no problem in providing. Would He?
"The Well of Providence is deep. It's the buckets we bring to it that are small." (Mary Webb)
Why Prayers are not Granted?
A friend and colleague of mine in the city of Banaras kindly invited me one time to bring a message to his assembly, Sunday morning. I agreed, and enquired whether any particular topic would be suitable for the occasion. Instantly came the reply, "We have several in the group having a sort of feeling that Christ no more answers prayer." Perhaps a family needing a child, but every time there is conception, it subsequently is followed by a miscarriage, despite prayers. Or someone praying for employment, or other guidance, but finding no light. A note of this kind is surely heart-breaking since, while we know the need is there, God appears to be a liar which He can never be. Is Christianity, therefore, workable any more?
Permit me to suggest, there are certain divine rules as per which our generous heavenly Father grants our prayers.
Rules for Asking and Receiving
Are there really some principles or rules as such? Oh, yes, there are rules for everything. We call on a medical doctor, for example, requiring his professional help, but he may not grant us a prescription right away. You may be required to sit a while in his reception room awaiting your turn. Then you tell him your problem; yet you may not be obliged straightaway. You are asked to come empty stomach next morning for lab investigations. You gladly obey Him. By midday lab report may be ready; yet the doctor needs some more and sends you to another Centre for ultra sound investigation. Another day passed, and you also spent lots of money. Finally, on the third day you got the medical prescription. You did not resent the delay that occurred.
But, when we, called 'believers' and seasoned Christians, call upon God with a petition, we are generally in no mood to wait a while and follow any instruction God may have for us to attend to first. Some of us who are Pastors or have been such like myself, would recollect times when certain godly parishioners called upon us to be prayed upon. Spontaneously, they even knelt down before us to expedite prayer, allowing no time to be counselled by the Word of God. The parishioners knew that the Pastor was, after all, paid a salary to perform. Whether the prayer would be granted by God or not was another matter. Reluctantly, I have had to oblige the visitor rightaway.
I have been privileged to closely observe many faith-healing campaigns conducted by different servants of God, and I have often wondered why in so many cases those who were not Christians obtained instant healing, while Christians of long standing went back home empty-handed. To me, the answer obviously is this; the Lord, before He would grant us our prayer, expects to know whether Christians who have listened to many good sermons, Sunday after Sunday, or have had their daily devotional exercises, obeyed the rules of praying or not. Let us therefore now turn to study the essentials in the matter of asking from our heavenly Father. Rule 1 - Keep His commands. "If you dwell in Me and My Words (commands) dwell in you, ask whatsoever and it will be done unto you" (Jn. 15:7). We (Apostles) receive from God whatever we ask, because we keep His commandments and do what please Him" (1 Jn. 3:22).
We must not jump over the rule!
Rule 2 - Ask according to God's will. "If we ask anything according to His Will, He hears us… we know we have obtained the request made of Him" (Jn. 5:14). But why would some not obtain the request? "You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly (i.e., not in the Will of God), to spend it on your passions" (Jas. 4:3)
Watch, therefore, that what you pray for is your true need and is in the Will of God. If my true need is a motor cycle, I must not ask for a motor car; else, I would get neither. If my real need is a one-room house with attached bath, I must not ask for a double-storied mansion.
Rule 3 - Our prayer must not be casual, nor ritual, but from the depth of our soul. Whenever I have prayed with burden of heart and anguish, that prayer has always been fulfilled. Turn for example to 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Jabez was a poor young man; he, his mother and brothers possessing a very scanty piece of house yard, not enough to produce any crop; but he was a man of faith and decided to raise the matter in prayer. He began with words of anguish and his prayer was specific - "Oh that Thou would bless me and increase my border…" and his prayer was granted by God. Many Bible translators in English and also Hindi omitted 'Oh' and also wrongly added the word 'country' which is not found in the original text. The young man was asking only for increase of His border (of own farmland) and received the request.
There were also tears of anguish in the eyes of the Lord Jesus, when He prayed for the raising of Lazarus who was dead since four days. Rule 4 - Forgive others before your prayer be answered. Many a prayer will go unfulfilled if we have failed to learn this delicate lesson. Forgiving another was made expressly conditional in the prayer that Lord taught us in Matthew 6. Says Scripture, "Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed" (Jas. 5:16).
The book of Job suddenly ends with the complete healing of Job from his ailments, when he forgave his offenders.
In various ways, the Bible makes it clear that our spiritual standing before God is not only our individual matter. But also a matter of mutual relationship with one another. Forgive one another. It will work wonders.
Rule 5 - Receive your answer to prayer by faith, before seeing by eyes. "Believe that you have received it" (Mk. 11:24). "You will receive it if you have faith" (Matt. 21:22). "We know we have received the request made of God" spoke the apostle in 1 John 5: 15b. Receiving by faith comes before seeing by sight. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
True, God is Sovereign and He can, if He pleases, grant our request instantly, or even before we have asked for it since He already knows our needs. But in His Will there also can be delays in the visible fulfilment. This may not happen within a certain fixed time, but you would have to receive the request as granted, by faith before it happened.
Consider instances like:
a) Jesus healed many a blind instantly, but there is also the case of a blind man in John 9, in which it differed. The Lord made clay and anointed his eyes; then asked him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. An interval of time was surely involved in this case before eyesight became physically actual.
b) Take the case of the 10 lepers in Jericho who begged of Jesus for their healing. The request was granted; but before it happened physically, there was a certain delay. According to the law (Lev. 14:2-32), every case of healing had to be certified by a priest; as such, the Lord directed them to go to the priest and get their healing verified. The lepers might reject the idea of going to the priest since, at the moment, there was no visual evidence of their healing. They believed it, however, and obeyed. As they began to walk on their way, they were all healed visibly. Faith preceded Sight.
c) Lazarus was dead for four days (Jn.11). When the Lord Jesus arrived at the grave, He said to the Father "Thou hast heard Me." Evidently, Jesus had prayed about the dead Lazarus as He was coming to his grave. Jesus believed His request was granted by the Father, although Lazarus was still lying dead until Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, Come out!" and Lazarus came out. Faith preceded visibility.
Rule 6 - Thank God by faith, before you see the fact by sight. This is what Jesus did as the account says, "Father, I thank you for You have heard Me." Thanking the Father even before the dead Lazarus is seen risen from the grave!
Receiving your request granted by faith, what would you do for the next day, or even the next, until your eyes saw the fulfilment? You cannot pray the same old prayer again. You can only thank God and praise Him for it again and again till you see it. Doing this will keep your faith strong and also keep Satan, the deceiver, away.
Repeating Scripture texts like the following will be very helpful:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away."
"Ask whatever in My Name, I will do it."
"Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever."
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
"I am the Lord who healeth thee."
"Hallelujah, Hallelujah; Praise You Jesus, Praise You Jesus."
Some repeat songs like:
"In the Name of Jesus, In the Name of Jesus, we have the victory…."
"There is power, power, wonder-working power…."
Rules and Rules
Rules generally end up in breaking of laws and rules. The religious systems of Confucius and Lao Tse had more than enough rules; yet truth was far from fulfilment.
Be not discouraged. The discipleship of Jesus is not a set of rules, but a discipline based on the commands of Jesus, the Lord. Jesus stands for Grace and Truth more than on anything else. He who asked us to have faith on Him, also told us, if our faith was only as small as the mustard seed, mountains would begin to move.
Perfection in spirituality, even as the Lord is perfect, is our goal; but, no human is perfect. If God were to judge us according to our state of perfection, none can stand before Him. But our perfection is made complete in the God-Man, Jesus Christ; in His right we stand perfect in the sight of God.
May we therefore follow the spirit of the rules pointed out in this study, in all sincerity and without reservation, devoid of hypocrisy, leaving the rest to the grace of God through the sacrificial blood of our Lord and Saviour.