Bro. & Sis. Keith are our prayer captains at Emmanuel and have carried the burden of prayer for years. Every Monday night we meet around the metroplex and pray. Each week they faithfully give us comments to read before we go to prayer. This prepares our hearts and it has been amazing how these remarks often parallel exactly what we’ve been going through and needed to hear. This week spoke to my heart in such a profound way that I decided to share the Monday night remarks by R.T. Kendall with everyone. I truly believe that everything filters down from heaven through the awesome privilege of prayer. No wonder the disciples asked Jesus “Teach us to pray” when they saw his passion to communicate with His Spirit.
“Answered Prayer: – Although the greatest fringe benefit to being a Christian is the privilege of prayer, the subject of prayer remains one of the greatest theological mysteries of all times.
Why does God invite us to pray when He already knows everything and has promised to withhold nothing good from us? Why does He, being a God of integrity who cannot lie, promise to answer prayer – but does not (apparently) always keep His promise?
Why then do we pray? Answer: We want God to hear us. We pray because we want God to step in and act on our behalf. Prayer can generally be defined as asking God to act. And when He does act, it is an event most wonderful indeed. To experience answered prayer brings about one of the greatest joys there is!
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me”, said Jonah (Jonah 2:2). “They called on the Lord and He answered them.” (Psalms 99:6) “When I called you answered me”, (Psalms 138:3)
One of the mysteries regarding prayer is how some prayers are answered immediately, some take weeks or months, some take years and years – while others remain (apparently) unanswered. I know what it is to put a brand-new prayer request to the Lord, write it down – expecting to repeat it daily indefinitely, only to have the request answered the same day! I can also tell you of many more requests that I have been bringing back to the Lord over and over again for the last twenty years – with no answer at all (that I can discern). This is a mystery to me.
My dad used to tell me that his prayer for me as I was growing up was that I “would not fall in love with the wrong girl”. This was a shrewd request. My dad knew that once you fall in love, it is almost too late; hence his wise prayer. That prayer was answered by the way. Although I thought I was in love a time or two – and got jilted a time or two – God spared me from falling truly in love until I met Louise. And believe me, had she been the wrong girl, it was too late! Nobody could have stopped me.
And yet I know a lot of godly people who have prayed for their children only to have them end up in disastrous marriages.
When my mother was taken ill on February 12, 1953, my dad asked countless people to pray for her. She was anointed with oil and least five times. Several saintly people assured us that they had prayed through regarding my mother, which is Kentucky jargon for God witnessing to them that my mother would be healed. One morning during his prayer time, my dad felt that he had received a strong witness from the Holy Spirit that my mother would live and not die. I myself got a verse of Scripture (which I took to be from the Lord) that convinced me that she would be healed. She died on April 8, 1953.
A few years later I came across a very important verse, one that has governed me to no end: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (Exodus 33:19) This passage is foundational to the understanding of the sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God refers to God’s prerogative to do what He pleases with whomever He chooses This covers every subject under the sun – salvation, healing, finances, relationships, gifts, calling, raises in pay, jobs, guidance, and when He shows His face or when He hides His face. In a word answered prayer begins with the sovereign will of God.
God answers prayer because He chooses to answer prayer. But it is equally true that God charges us with the responsibility to pray and plead with Him as though the whole outcome were entirely up to us. Figure that one out. But that is the way it is. We are dealing with antimony – two parallel principals that seem irreconcilable but both are true. In this case it means that I will call upon God over and over regarding the same request and yet know that underneath it all is His undeniable sovereignty. I can live with this. I hope you can too.