God, Where Are You??

DrRvrBdI’m troubled most when God is quiet. When living water seems to have dried up. Consider Psalm 77:7-9…

Will the Lord spurn forever, & never again be favorable? 8 Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

When God is silent I get anxious. I start questioning… wondering and wandering… my mind tends toward discouragement. I identify with the uncertainties of what is written in the Scripture above. What about you?

Intellectually I know God is omnipresent. It’s the personal sensed favorable presence of God I/we need. We are like the little kid scared by thunder at night who crawls into bed with his mom and dad for safety. God’s “stuff” (Material blessings) mean nothing in comparison to His felt presence. Houses, land, money, and men’s recognition is crap compared to everything this world offers (Don’t get offended, Paul said it first in Phil 3:8. “Rubbish” is better translated “barnyard dung.”).

Therefore there are other Scriptures I go to which answer Psalm 77’s questions…

You who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? 9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. 10 In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, 11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me? Ps 56:8-11

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from Him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my rock & my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. Ps 62:1-2

You (God) who have made me see many troubles & calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth You will bring me up again. 21 You will increase my greatness & comfort me again. Ps 71:20-21

What I feel (God’s absence) is not reality (God is present). Sometimes He causes us to feel absence of His presence to long more for Him and be satisfied with His presence above all things.

Retroactive Prayer Answer?

RetroCan God answer prayer BEFORE it is prayed… in essence a retroactive answer to prayer? Consider the Scripture…

Mt 6:8 Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

Is 65:24 Before they call I will answer;  while they are yet speaking I will hear.

I’m not sure of the timing of yesterday’s blog event (Click here) in relation to when we prayed. What I do know is that God answers prayer and can do so knowing what WILL BE asked of Him. The Scripture affirms that God can answer prayer retroactively. I have experienced it one time in my life.

When I was young I was told a neighborhood bully was looking to paddle me as a rite of passage into high school. When I heard I was scared. I went into a room and asked God to stop the bully from paddling me. When I came out of the room my cousin exclaimed… “Hey Ron! Did you hear? Tommy wrecked his motorcycle and is at the hospital! I don’t guess you’ll be getting paddled will you?”

I immediately went back into the room to thank God for answered prayer. Tommy had wrecked his motorcycle about 30 minutes BEFORE I prayed… a retroactive answer to prayer. The bully was not seriously injured, but he did have a limp and moved slowly for a while… and never did paddle me.

Prayer Saved A Life?

B MissyWhen a person crosses the Christian’s mind unexpectedly, that can be taken as The Spirit’s prompting to pray. When a person dominates the Christian’s mind it is called a burden from the Lord and is a stronger call by The Spirit to pray. This happened in our family last weekend.

Our youngest son and his wife went camping last weekend. At one point my wife came into the den and said, “We need to pray for Britton and Missy.” I never turn down a chance to pray, but I just wasn’t so led at the time. However, my wife was… powerfully. So we prayed for their safety and protection. Two days later Britton called me and told me what happened on their trip…

He said they were rafting down a local river when Missy slipped off their floatation device and couldn’t surface. Britton reached under the water… blindly grabbed her… and pulled her up so she could breathe. After coughing and sputtering a few minutes, she told Britton if he hadn’t done that she knew she would have drowned. She was convinced he had saved her life.

Coincidence? Not at all. Answered prayer? I’m convinced it was. I’m thankful Pam responded to the Spirit’s prompting to pray.

When you are prompted to pray by the Spirit, don’t neglect the opportunity to do so.

Does God Ignore Prayer?

PrNoThere is a sense in which God “hears” all prayer. He is God and knows all things, in those terms God does “hear” all prayers that are prayed… even by unbelievers. However, there is a sense in which God does NOT “hear” all prayers. In this context “hearing” has to do with listening… considering… and answering the prayer as a Father grants the request of his child.

So let’s consider when God does not “hear” a prayer prayed. Maybe a better way to put it is when God hears… but IGNORES a person’s prayer. It is thus essential for the Scripture to be considered. First is Isaiah 1:10 where it is written GOD SAYS

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! 11 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. 12 “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? 13 Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

There ARE times when God chooses to ignore the prayers of His people… even though He “hears” them. The reason is because their conduct contradicts who God is. The sad things is this, they are laughably blind to their condition! In some way they think their conduct during the week in the world has no effect on when they go to worship God!

This is consistent with what is written to HUSBANDS in 1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” If/when a husband doesn’t honor his wife, his prayers are hindered… God doesn’t consider them… He doesn’t “hear” them as when the wife is honored!

The FIRST prayer God “hears” (Personally answers) from an unbeliever is the one to be saved. Prior to that (All sentimentality aside), God does not “hear” the prayer of the unrighteous (Those who are not saved). This can be further understood because neither The Spirit nor Jesus prays for the unbeliever as they pray. Prior to a person being saved, God does not “hear” those prayers. This is consistent with Cornelius in Acts 10:1-6…

But thanks be to God that those who are in Christ Jesus have been given access to God’s throne as it is written in Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Praying Like Pharisees

prayer sinnerIn looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them. There may be some who think their prayers worthy of acceptance—as the Pharisee did; but the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps he would desire to pray more earnestly. Remember, Christian, how cold thy prayers have been. When in thy closet thou shouldst have wrestled as Jacob did; but instead thereof, thy petitions have been faint and few—far removed from that humble, believing, persevering faith, which cries, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.” Yet, wonderful to say, God has heard these cold prayers of thine, and not only heard, but answered them. Reflect also, how infrequent have been thy prayers, unless thou hast been in trouble, and then thou hast gone often to the mercy-seat: but when deliverance has come, where has been thy constant supplication? Yet, notwithstanding thou hast ceased to pray as once thou didst, God has not ceased to bless. When thou hast neglected the mercy-seat, God has not deserted it, but the bright light of the Shekinah has always been visible between the wings of the cherubim. Oh! it is marvellous that the Lord should regard those intermittent spasms of importunity which come and go with our necessities. What a God is He thus to hear the prayers of those who come to Him when they have pressing wants, but neglect Him when they have received a mercy; who approach Him when they are forced to come, but who almost forget to address Him when mercies are plentiful and sorrows are few. Let His gracious kindness in hearing such prayers touch our hearts, so that we may henceforth be found “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

Praying Rightly: Attitude

prayer“And He went a little farther, and fell on His face, and prayed.” — Matthew 26:39

There are several instructive features in our Saviour’s prayer in His hour of trial. It was lonely prayer. He withdrew even from His three favoured disciples. Believer, be much in solitary prayer, especially in times of trial. Family prayer, social prayer, prayer in the Church, will not suffice, these are very precious, but the best beaten spice will smoke in your censer in your private devotions, where no ear hears but God’s.

It was humble prayer. Luke says He knelt, but another evangelist says He “fell on His face.” Where, then, must be THY place, thou humble servant of the great Master? What dust and ashes should cover thy head! Humility gives us good foot-hold in prayer. There is no hope of prevalence with God unless we abase ourselves that He may exalt us in due time.

It was filial prayer. “Abba, Father.” You will find it a stronghold in the day of trial to plead your adoption. You have no rights as a subject, you have forfeited them by your treason; but nothing can forfeit a child’s right to a father’s protection. Be not afraid to say, “My Father, hear my cry.”

Observe that it was persevering prayer. He prayed three times. Cease not until you prevail. Be as the importunate widow, whose continual coming earned what her first supplication could not win. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.

Lastly, it was the prayer of resignation. “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Yield, and God yields. Let it be as God wills, and God will determine for the best. Be thou content to leave thy prayer in his hands, who knows when to give, and how to give, and what to give, and what to withhold. So pleading, earnestly, importunately, yet with humility and resignation, thou shalt surely prevail.

C.H. Spurgeon

Praying Rightly: James 4:3

james-4-3James 4:2, You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

A great many of our prayers go unanswered because our motivation in prayer is improper (Ja 4:3 above). So I have taken to asking myself a few questions about my requests, especially if it seems they are not being answered. I can have some degree of confidence of praying rightly if questions about the request are “yes” for the first seven questions below, and “no” for the last one.

Does the request seek God’s glory {1 Cor 10:31}?

Does the request require faith in God {Heb 11:6}?

Does the request require sacrifice on your part {Lk 9:23}?

Does the request seek to build up the Body of Christ {Eph 4:11-16}?

Does the request require using gifts God has given you {Mt 25:14-23, 1 Cor 12:7-11}?

Is this a burden and/or passion deep in your heart about what you are asking?

Is there a need… and… do godly people affirm what you are asking {Acts 16:9-10}?

Are you asking for self promotion in any way {Phil 2:3-4}?