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August 2007

Does God Always Answer Prayer? - 1

PART 1. We'll start with the basics

A young boy prayed: "Dear God, we read Thomas Edison made light, but in Bible class they said you did. So I bet he stole your idea!" - Eddie

Another one prayed: "Dear God, I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made yesterday. That was real cool!" - Caleb

Precious aren't they - especially to our heavenly Father.

Over the years I've had the privilege of speaking about prayer to thousands of new Christians. I tell them firstly that prayer is not an obligation which we have to fulfill, but rather a loving relationship with God. Secondly, I do not need some clever technique or complex procedure to be able to commune with him. Let me share with you a few other basics on communing with God.

  1. WE NEED TO SURRENDER OUR LIVES TO GOD EVERY MORNING SO THAT HE CAN BE OUR GUIDE. Proverbs 3:5,6 NKJV "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."
  2. TALK TO GOD AS TO A FRIEND BECAUSE HE IS INDEED OUR BEST FRIEND. Proverbs 18:24 NIV "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
  3. GIVE GOD OUR REQUESTS. He invites us, as it says in Hebrews 4:16 NIV "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Dear friend, I don't know about you, but I NEED His grace and mercy every moment of every day!
  4. LISTENING TO GOD SPEAK TO ME THROUGH HIS WORD. This one has become to me the most important part of my devotions. As new Christians we soon realize how wonderful and easy it is to pray and commune with God. What is not always so easy is understanding what God is telling us. Harder still sometimes is the obedience to what that understanding requires. Something that is important here is our reason for reading the Bible. We can read it for history's sake or to learn doctrine, and both are good reasons. However, in our personal devotions, we read the Bible to listen to God tell us how to bring our will into harmony with His will for our lives.

Let me illustrate from my own experience. Over the years there have been occasions when I have felt very hurt by unkind and untrue words. As a young Christian, I told the Lord - the audacity of me - I thought I should give the person a piece of my mind! As I read God's Word that morning, He spoke to me through Leviticus 19:18 NIV, "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I AM THE LORD!" Wow! God even signed it Himself! Then Hebrews 12:14 KJV says: "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." I learned then that God doesn't waste time or words. He cuts through the nonsense very quickly, and I got the message loud and clear.

A couple of times in our ministry, there have been people who betrayed us and who tried to destroy our ministry. For a while, I found I only had bad feelings towards them. But then I remembered the words of Christ in Matthew 5:44 NIV, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Now if Jesus had only said, "Avoid your enemies," that would have made sense but that wasn't what He said, and I knew if I wanted to be counted amongst His children, I had to obey. So I prayed for grace and that He would give me His God-like love towards them, and in His mercy He did.

When we say, "Prayer changes things," that is true; prayer can and does change things, but more often than not, "Prayer changes us!" Unbelievers often ask, "Is it always easy to obey God?" Not always. "Why then do you Christians do so? Isn't it all about blind faith?" No, dear friend, we trust and obey because we know that God loves us, and this was best demonstrated by the cross at Calvary. Every time we look at the cross, we are reminded of how much He loves us. As John 3:16 KJV says: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

DOES GOD ALWAYS ANSWER PRAYER? WE'LL CONSIDER THAT QUESTION IN PART 2.

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