PRAYER…what comes to your mind when you see that word?  What is the primary purpose of prayer in your life?  To get something from God or to get to know God?

Oswald Chamber said, “Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer, He had the boundless certainty that prayer is always answered.  God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time, although the immediate manifestation of the answer in the domain in which we want it may not always follow.”

Of prayer, Dr. Bob Pierce said, “We so often think that God is not really answering our prayer unless He is relieving us of our pain or helping us escape from something.”

Jesus Himself cried out to His Father to be delivered from the cross.  The writer of Hebrews gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane.  “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and with tears to the One able to save Him and He was heard…” (Hebrews 5:7).  But more than an easy fix and a painless delivery, Jesus was more concerned about His Father’s will.

The Apostle Paul, who himself had prayed for many to be healed, whose prayers even raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9) was told by God that he would not be delivered from his own malady but would be given sufficient grace to bear his thorn in the flesh (II Corinthians 7-10).

God answers prayer, every time!  His answers like that of a loving parent are yes, no, and not yet, but always according to His perfect will for our lives.  Often, like a spoiled child who is not getting his way, we come away accusing God when His answers are not to our liking.

One day, several years ago, a couple came into my office and shared with me about the valley they were going through.  They were seeking my council as to how get out of this painful time.  I listened to their pleas and when it came time to pray for them I felt an unmistakable nudge from the Holy Spirit not to pray for their deliverance but to pray for them to endure this valley that was of God making for His greater purposes in their lives.  “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret” (II Corinthians 7:10).  “Therefore, those who suffer according to the will of God shall trust their souls to a faithful Creator…”  (I Peter4:19).  So I prayed that God would give them patience and the faith to endure their present trial.

When I compare my prayers of years ago with my prayers of today, I see how I have gone from demanding to trusting a Sovereign Lord that only allows those things into my life that will cause me to mature in Him and bring Him glory.  Today, my prayers are mostly asking for grace sufficient for the day.  Grace sufficient for the mountain top, grace sufficient for the valley, grace sufficient for the pain.  Grace to hear and receive His yes, His no, His not yet.

Permit me, in closing, one more Oswald quote, “The primary idea of prayer is not in order to get something from God; prayer brings us into perfect and complete oneness with God.  We are not here to prove that God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of His grace.”

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