I love serving as a prayer warrior. I consider it a privilege to be able to
partner with God by interceding for others in prayer. It is amazing how these
prayers transform you. You start to care for people you haven't even met. You
begin to be filled with an unbelievable love that can come only from high above.
You start to see things with God's eyes, and soon you have no choice but to
reach out in love to those whose petitions are at stake!
There are times, however, that prayer requests leave me flabbergasted. Take these, for instance: "Pray that everybody believes in universal salvation." "Pray that this girl who resents me accepts me as her soon-to-be husband." "Pray that my boss gives me a pay raise." "Put a hedge a protection around Mr. X so that he realizes that he is destined to marry me, not that girl he is going out with."
I feel for these people, and I know exactly where they are coming from. I, myself, used to utter similar prayers: "Lord, teach my cats to use the toilet instead of their stinking litter box." "Lord, help my colleague to like me." "Lord ,heal my eyes, so that I won't need to wear glasses any longer! Can you imagine what a testimony this would be!"
There is nothing wrong with such prayers. In fact, the book of Psalms records several examples of such prayers: "Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them." (Ps 54:5 NIV); "In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; destroy all my foes, for I am your servant." (Ps 143:12 NIV); and "How long must your servant wait? When will you punish my persecutors?" (Ps 119:84 NIV)
Why are these prayers in the Bible? Because God wants us to pray about everything that is on our heart! Prayer is not a ritual, but a relationship where you are free to share with God all of your emotions and concerns! He will never reject you for who you are. He loves you and welcomes you to share your burdens with Him. "To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill." (Ps 3:4 NIV); "My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me." (Ps 55:4 NIV); and "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV)
However, this does not necessarily mean He can grant all of our requests. The apostle Paul had an urgent petition as well, which was never granted! He learned an important lesson from it: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:7-10 NIV)
Paul realized that not all prayers are offered according to God's glory or will. He became aware that unanswered prayers are truly answered prayers, and instead of sulking in a corner, he delighted in his seemingly unanswered prayer: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Notice how his unidentified "thorn in the flesh" did not originate from God, but from the devil himself! Still God, in His grace, turned this to the benefit of His child!
I sometimes wonder, however, if we are always earnestly seeking God's will in our prayers, or if we sometimes tend to slip in our own, selfish desires instead? What would have happened if Jesus personal request (see Luke 22:42 "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…" NIV) had been granted? All of humanity would have been doomed!
What would have happened if the Nazis' request for total victory would have been granted? They believed God was on their side. They even wore an emblem that read: "Gott mit uns" (God with us)! Whole nations would have been destroyed, and much of the world would not know the freedom we know today!
What would have happened if the request of Jim Elliot's wife had been granted? She prayed that God would keep her husband safe while he attempted to approach barbaric tribes in the Amazon with the love of Christ. His death led to the salvation of whole tribes, and if God had granted her petition, it would have meant far fewer kingdom people!
God is a specialist of turning sour situations into glorious outcomes.
But couldn't the lives of people like Jim Elliot have been spared?
Friends, there are questions that we will never be able to answer while we are on this planet. Remember 1 Cor 13:12? "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." However, how can we even compare the few, meager years we live on this planet to eternity with God? "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." (Phil 1:21-24 NIV)
You have to ask yourself: If all of our prayers were to be answered, would there be anyone left alive on our planet today? May we all learn those important words that Jesus uttered in His prayers: "…yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42 NIV)
P. S. By the way, do you think eye laser surgery would work on me?
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