“Is anyone of you in trouble?…”
What happens when we obey the Lord and ask our fellow believers to earnestly pray with us (see James 5:13-14)? Our petitions normally receive God’s –“Yes!” When this happens, it is because our prayers actually please Him. The Bible explains, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15) Ultimately, it is simply moving ahead when instructed to do so – that shows the Lord we trust Him!
God wants us to live with the full assurance that He is able to do anything He desires (see Luke 1:37). He always understands our prayers, but His answers are based on factors that relate to His will and timing. As a well-known Biblical example, James wrote, “…and the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” (James 5:15a) Yet, in spite of Paul’s great faith and healing ministry he remained personally infirmed. Why? Because for his own humility and greater usability, the Father chose not to remove Satan’s “…thorn in his flesh…” (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Make no mistake about it – many deeply sincere prayers offered in faith, like Paul’s, will be answered with God’s fully intended “No.” We understand this because the Bible says, “There is a time for everything…” (see Ecclesiastes 3:1). Sometimes when we pray, we fail to understand or actually want God’s timing. The same is equally true concerning His perfect will. Additionally, we likely do not comprehend the degree of Satan’s power. We are now living in an era of history when God’s “wheat” co-exists with the “weeds” (see Matthew 13:24-30). These are the troubled times between the Lord’s bodily resurrection and His glorious – return! (see Matthew 24:14)
God’s “No’s” are never intended to produce a sense of guilt. The Bible clearly says,
“…there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Our Lord’s spiritual “waits” are specifically designed to develop – our wisdom, patience, and character. Sometimes, He wants to show us that we simply need to trust Him more or that we have been praying with the wrong attitude! On other occasions, He wants us to discover that we have been making requests unwisely. His “No’s” are always intended to protect, guide, and continue teaching us (see Romans 8:28). Through them, we are allowed to focus on life’s bigger issues from God’s all-knowing and timeless perspective.
Life is precious, and in recent millennia we have been allowed to live very briefly. This is because the earth has long been well populated and we are essentially here – en route to eternity! On this appointed journey, we have been wonderfully invited to place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. By personally knowing and sincerely trusting Him, we succeed in making life’s most important decision. That discovery becomes our highly personal fork in the road! To those who become the Lord Jesus’ disciples, He reassuringly says, “…In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
As Christ’s redeemed follower, the path which you choose will openly demonstrate your faith. Your daily example gives credence to your spiritual testimony. If you have already said “Yes” to the Savior, you are instructed never – to look back! (see Luke 17:32-33) Stay on the Lord’s beautiful narrow road in spite of any trouble that you may encounter on the way (see Matthew 7:13). Purpose to faithfully rely on His promises and keep pressing “…toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippines 3:14)
By Billie Hanks Jr.