Do you often feel like there are more questions than answers when it comes to prayer?* I do! To think that a sovereign, all-knowing and all-powerful God, Who...
...does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?” Daniel 4:34 ESV
...would respond to our cries! And not only that...He actually want us to cry out to Him and invite Him in!
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
It's beyond comprehension!
I believe that's because prayer is one of God's mysteries. I love this thought from David Roper in his wonderful book Teach Us to Number our Days,
The chief difference between orthodoxy and heresy is that orthodoxy is rooted in paradox and mystery, while heresy is usually rooted in clarity and precision. (quoting St Irenaeus, 2nd century)
And it seems to me that becoming increasingly comfortable with mystery and paradox is a sign of growth in the Lord. We are okay with GOD being GOD!
That being said, here are some thoughts, meditations, and Scriptures. We will need to leave the remaining questions in the mind of God! :)
Now to the question that always comes to mind eventually: [Bonus Question from Part 2/ Now retitled PRAYER: urging...& opening... to better reflect the content].
Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?
The short answer is, "I don't know!"
But before you click out, let's reflect together:
But there's also the issue of common grace. God just does good things for His creatures, and most especially His children, whether we ask or not. God is the giver of every good, and perfect gift...wherever those gifts may be found! See James 1:17-18 and Matthew 5:45
In fact, God goes above and beyond what we ask or even think...abundantly beyond! See Ephesians 3:20-21
On the other hand, we often feel that our prayers go unanswered. That's when these Scriptures give great insight and comfort:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. Is 55:8
Even Jesus the Son didn't know some things...He only knew what the Father gave Him to know! Talk about astounding!
...Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place...But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:34-36 (see also John 5:19-23)
This inability for us to know what God knows about prayer...or anything else for that matter...reminds me of a conversation between Lucy and Aslan [the Jesus figure] in Prince Caspianby CS Lewis.
In Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Lucy is the child that is in tune with Aslan...his voice and calling. She insists that she has seen him, though her siblings don't believe her. As a result, they all decide to not to act on Lucy's insights...with disastrous results!
When Lucy finally meets up with Aslan, the dialogue goes something like this [my paraphrase]:
Lucy...I knew I saw you, but the others didn't believe me.
Aslan..Why should that have made a difference?
Lucy...Would all this NOT have happened if I would have come to you?
Aslan...We can't knowwhat would have happened. But what WILL happen is another matter!
Lucy...Will you help?
Aslan...Of course! As will you!
We can't know what would have happened if we had prayed. But what we do know is that God wants us to pray today...always...and somehow in His sovereign grace, HE puts it all together for HIS glory and OUR good (Romans 8:28-40)!
Then Jesus told his disciples...that they should always pray and not give up. Luke 18:1-8
* Keep in mind that we are talking primarily about prayers of petition. There are many other forms of prayer: worship, adoration, thanksgiving, confession, etc. What they all have in common, including petition, is atotal focus on the Lord!
"If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ." C. H. Spurgeon
More Q & A next time...see you then!