Don't Lose Heart
- Thursday, August 27, 2009
Prayer does not change God, but changes him who prays.
— Soren Kierkegaard, Danish Philosopher
I carry a file of prayer requests with me on my cell phone in a digital application. There's a place on each request where I can check-off when the prayer has been answered. At anytime I can refer back to my list to see what needs and desires have been filled and which ones still need to be lifted up.
For several years, the unmarked "answered" box on many of the prayers has left me frustrated and somewhat angry. I look at the list, read through the many heartfelt and heart breaking needs, and it pains me to see them go unanswered.
There are requests for spiritual salvation, medical and emotional healings, relational reconciliations, and economic buoyancy, however, many seem to go unnoticed and be in vain.
Maybe it's just me—praying for something and never receiving the answer I am looking for or never receiving an answer at all?
I wonder if my heart was in the right place when I prayed.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures (James 4:3).
I wonder if I truly had faith in my prayers.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well (James 5:15).
I believe God knows what I'm going to pray even before I utter a single word.
I believe He cares for every person and about every circumstance we face.
I believe He is in complete control.
However, within my prayers, I sometimes find myself trying to convince Him of what (I think) is best in a situation when I can only see and comprehend a fraction of what is going on. And the only reason I have any understanding whatsoever of the circumstance is by His grace and the knowledge He has given me in the first place.
How do you spell arrogance?
At times I have to laugh at myself as I try to "figure out" what God is up to. After receiving a lifetime of blessings and experiencing incredible "only God" situations, who am I to think I can understand His ways? Why would I even want to try? I would probably just get in His way.
It reminds me of Mary and Martha's plea to Jesus for their brother Lazarus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." When Jesus heard of Lazarus' condition, "He stayed where he was (Jerusalem) two more days." (Before traveling to Bethany less than two miles away, John 11:3, 5).
Could you imagine being with Jesus at the time He received the news, knowing that Lazarus was a close friend of His? We would have questioned why Jesus didn't leave immediately to be by his side. We would have sympathized for Mary and Martha's anguish as they watched their brother's health diminish. Lazarus himself must have wondered where his friend was, who could have healed him.
Jesus finally arrived after Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days and was greeted by Martha. "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:21) Upon seeing Jesus, Mary said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." (John 11:32) The Jews said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" (John 11:36-37)
Martha, Mary, and the Jews all believed Jesus could have healed Lazarus before he died. So, why didn't He?
Before departing Jerusalem, Jesus told his disciples, "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." (John 11:14) Jesus had a reason and a purpose for not leaving earlier to heal Lazarus.
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