Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Unanswered Prayer

Jesus taught his disciples that if they believed a mountain could throw itself into the sea, if they prayed for it, it would happen. "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." (Mark 11:22)

I wonder how many cancer patients believe that God can and will heal them only for it not to happen? Or from a more worldly perspective, who here hasn't prayed for some level of success only to have victory elude you? (I pray to win the lottery all the time, but I haven't yet. Of course, it might help if I buy a ticket)

So there must be some fine print in there somewhere.

We can imagine Jesus, agonizing at the garden, praying that "this cup [would] be taken from [him]." (Matthew 26:39) Here was the Son of God, who taught his disciples how to pray, asking God for something fully believing God could answer that prayer. But he added this caveat, "yet not as I will, but as you will."

God's will is like a "get out of jail free" card for prayer. God doesn't answer your prayer? Not God's will. Things aren't going your way? Must be God's will.

Tell that to everyone in Colorado or Oklahoma who recently lost their homes.

Needless to say, citing God's will can be unsatisfactory for some. So we need to dig a little deeper. Why isn't it God's will? What else does he have planned? We answer those questions by saying God is refining our faith, or there is something he wants us to learn, or there is something better out there than what we are praying for. The last one is clear in Jesus' case. The cross was a better outcome for humanity, if not necessarily for Jesus, than any other alternative.

Remember the country song "Unanswered Prayers" by Garth Brooks? He sings, "Some of God's greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers." In the song he reflects on a girl he like that he prayed would like him back. But then he looks at his family, and recognizes that if God had answered that prayer he wouldn't have the blessing he has now.

We can all relate.

So let's look again at Jesus. In John 17, we read about three of Jesus' prayers.
  • The first, for Christ to be glorified for finishing the work God gave him to do. (v 1-5) I think we can all agree that God answered that prayer. Two thousand years after the cross, we still praise Jesus' name.
  • The second prayer was for the disciples, that they should remain faithful to the end as they are sent out to proclaim the Gospel. (v 6-19) History shows us that each of the disciples, with the exception of John who is believed to have died under house arrest, died a martyr's death.
  • The third prayer was for you and me, Christians who would come along later after hearing the word passed down from other Christians. Jesus prayed that we would be unified in our faith. Look around. Has God answered this prayer? (v 20-26)
Again, this is the Son of God. I am sure he believed his prayer would be answered. I seems unlikely that his prayer was outside of God's will. In fact, Jesus prays that we will be unified so that the world will know that God sent him. So it is no coincidence that as we become more and more divided, fewer and fewer believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

 Jesus left this earth with one unanswered prayer. Why? Was it to increase our faith? Is there something we need to learn? Is there a better answer in God's will?

Jesus prayed for unity. I look around and I just don't see it. Maybe Christ's prayer needs to become my own.


Joy Dawson said...

Timely post. Just had a discussion of this issue in bible study of the story of the death of Lazarus. Why does God hold out on us when we pray? For my good? For His glory? Many times I can see His love and wisdom in retrospect, but not always. I have a long list of questions for Him when I get to the "other side", I can tell you that! "Trust and obey" isn't always so easy, is it?

val said...

A gift for you...The true Gospel is now delivered to you from the wilderness Rev 12:6 as a witness Matt 24:14.
Our heavenly Father will NOT put any child of his into a hell fire no matter what their sins. Sin doesn't scare God! He created it Isa 45:7 to teach us all the knowledge of good and evil Gen 3:22 for our eternal placement in his coming kingdom. Throwing a child of his into a hell fire has never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer7:31, Jer 19:5. Anyone preaching a hell fire to God's children has been deceived into teaching lies. The whole world has been believing in a god of hate murder and revenge (The devil Rev 12:9). The true word of God John 1:1 is now delivered Rev 12:5 here

God chose a woman Rev 12 to be the prophet like unto Moses Num 12:3 and Elijah Matt 17:3, Acts 3:21-23, Luke 1:17. Those professing themselves to be Christians would be wise to hear all Acts 3:23 BEFORE making any judgment. The proof of what I tell you is in the hearing.

Prove ALL things 1 Thes 5:21. Satan has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9 until now.

Fatha Frank said...

@Joy, Thanks for stopping by! What helps me wrestle with those questions is the reminder that not all of Jesus' prayers were answered either. So who am I to complain! I agree that I'll have a lot of questions on the other side, but I think the benefit of hindsight being better than 20/20 (because we will be perfected) I won't need to ask- it will be an instant ah-hah! moment.