Does God answer your prayers?
“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
Is this verse a familiar one to you? I'm sure that it is if you've ever attended any IronMen Ministries event. Every Friday morning, we IronMen gather together in God's name for breakfast, testimony, and fellowship, and we open with the verse above and the Pledge of Allegiance to our country.
We also pray.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV)
On these occasions, our prayers tend, but are in no way limited, to focusing on big things. For example, we might pray for our leadership. Not only within the ministry, but for our local, state, and federal governments (who need these prayers very, very … very much at the minute). We might pray for events such as wars, famine, oppression, etc. around the world. We might even pray that God, in his infinite wisdom, uses all of these situations, and many more, for His purpose, and that He gives us the insight and acumen to accept what's happening as just that, His will. But prayer is much, much more personal than that.
Being a Christian is all about accepting that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. That He accepted the punishment for the sins of all mankind, living in the past, now, or in the future, by dying on the cross, so that we all might attain the divine salvation and eternal life that He promised us. This can never be earned. It must be accepted as the gift from our Heavenly Father that it is.
But it's not that simple.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (NIV)
In other words, you gotta believe.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:6-8 (NIV)
Please, allow me to be blunt (as if I could be any other way): There really is no point in praying to the God of the Universe(s) unless you believe that your prayers will be answered.
Now it gets even more complicated.
God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want him to! I know! I know! This revelation might be a shock to some of you, but it's true. In fact, God rarely answers prayers tailor-made to our designs. Why? Because he's the God of the universe(s) and He knows better than we do what's good for us.
I've heard it said that God has three answers to prayer …
… and the dreaded …
So, as number 3 implies, regardless of how He chooses to answer our prayers, it might be a while before He does. So, if you're truly a hearty soul, you might try praying for patience too … though I don't recommend it.
Allow me to give you an example of one person who waited, though not necessarily intentionally, on prayer.
I was born fat. That's not really a revelation to some of you. After all, most of us start out in this life as fat
little mounds of screaming flesh that have exactly 3 skills:
3. The act of processing number 2 … by doing number 2.
Now, in most cases, as we grow, we lose that excess fat that we collected while God was forming us in our mother's womb as time progresses and we become more active. But this wasn't the case where I was concerned. When I was about 9 years old, my parents took me to the doctor because they were disturbed that I hadn't yet lost my, so called, “baby fat”. The doctor felt my neck, told my parents that I had “swollen glands” and recommended that I have surgery (I'm assuming thyroid medication was either unavailable, ineffective, or too expensive to consider as an alternative). To which, my folks said no. Period. This set me up for a life of ridicule, shame, and misery because that was my Father's way (if you read my last article, you'll understand). I don't blame him (now) for doing this. It was what he thought was the best way to motivate me.
So, long story short, I spent the next 49 years trying unsuccessfully to lose weight, and yes, I prayed through most of my attempts.
And then, one day … I developed a heart condition!
I know. This doesn't seem good news … at first.
“ Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)
But then, I was prescribed a medication that was known to cause some weight loss. And, sure enough, I lost 18 lbs. over the next 4 ½ months!
Then, I got serious.
Jesus led me to a video, the subject of which was something called The Carnivore Diet.
Six months … and 81 more lbs. later … I'm writing this article.
The moral? See number 3 above … the FIRST number 3, not the second one, smarty-pants.
So, once again …
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
This is the place! Now is the time! The battle is on!
G. J. Fortier is a member of Ironmen Ministries and First Baptist Church, Centerville, GA. Look for his novels on Amazon on Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.GerardFortier.com