The Lord Answers Prayer
By Rich Carmicheal
In 2006 my daughter (Sara) and her husband (Justin) moved in with my wife and me while Justin finished his last year of college. During that time, my granddaughter was born, and so I had the privilege of spending time with her on a daily basis when she was just a baby. About six months after she was born, Justin was hired by a company two hundred miles away. Although I was very thankful for the Lord’s provision of a good job, I was heartbroken when I found out about the distance involved, and that my wife and I would not be able to spend time with Sara’s family on a regular basis.
The night before they moved I was outside alone and I walked over to the moving truck we had packed with their belongings earlier that evening. I began to pray for the Lord’s protection upon them as they traveled the next day, and I also asked for His physical and spiritual blessings upon them as they entered into this new season in their lives. It was a calm and clear summer night, and as I prayed I looked up toward heaven and saw the sky filled with stars. The "peace of God which surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7) came over me as I realized that the One who created the stars and this vast universe had the power to watch over my daughter and her family.
There is something about looking up to the heavens that can help remind us of the Lord’s awesome power to care for us, no matter how small or great our need. The Prophet Isaiah gives this encouragement: "Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His power not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, my way is hidden from the Lord...? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.... He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. ...Those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary" (Isa. 40:26-31).
The Power and the Love of God
Friend, your way is not hidden from the Lord. He knows all about you and your situation, and He cares. His marvelous works of creation, including the stars, the mountains and the seas, are a testimony to His incredible power available for our lives. No wonder the Prophet Jeremiah declared, "Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee, who showest lovingkindness to thousands, …O great and mighty God...great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men…" (Jer. 32:17-19).
Notice that like Isaiah, Jeremiah rejoices in both the power of God and the love of God. The One with the power to make the heavens and the earth is also the One who is full of love and mercy toward us. David emphasizes the same truths this way: "For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications! In the day of my trouble I shall call upon Thee, for Thou wilt answer me. There is no one like Thee among the gods, O Lord; nor are there any works like Thine…For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God" (Psa. 86:5-10). Likewise, the Apostle Peter encourages us regarding the power and love of God: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
The Lord Answers Prayer!
This issue of Herald of His Coming focuses on prayer, and the foundation of prayer is our faith in the One who cares deeply for us and who has the power and resources to meet our needs. This does not mean, of course, that prayer is the opportunity to tell God what to do, or to get anything we want. God is the starting point for prayer, not us. The focus of prayer is His will, His purposes, His heart and His glory. As Jesus teaches, we are to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10).
However, the Lord definitely offers us the privilege of prayer so that we might seek Him, ask Him and trust Him through His power and love to meet our physical and spiritual needs. As Jesus goes on to teach, we are to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…" (Matt. 6:11-13). Because of how great our God is, and how great His love is as our heavenly Father, we can ask for such things with great faith. "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matt. 21:22).
The Bible encourages us over and over again with the truth that God hears and responds to those who seek Him through prayer. He meets all kinds of needs in all kinds of situations. Here are just a few of the many wonderful examples of how He answers prayer: He provides a spouse (Gen. 24:12-14); He enables barren women to conceive (Gen. 25:21; 1 Sam. 1:27; Luke 1:13); He grants deliverance from enemies (2 Kgs. 19:15ff.; Psa. 6:9-10; Phil. 1:19; Rom. 15:30-31); He holds back judgment (Deut. 9:20, 26; Job 42:8); He grants strength and courage (Neh. 6:9; Luke 22:41-43); He blesses cities (Jer. 29:7); He provides guidance (Jer. 31:9); He raises the dead (2 Kgs. 4:33ff.; Acts 9:40); He sets captives free (2 Chr. 33:9-13); He opens eyes to spiritual realities (2 Kgs. 6:17; Eph. 1:16-19); He protects from danger (Neh. 2:14-20; 4:9; Ezra 8:21-23); He enables rebuilding (Neh. 2:20); He inspires hope (Ezra 10:1-2); He extends life (2 Kgs. 20:2ff.); He grants success (Neh. 1:11; 2:8); He forgives sin (2 Chr. 7:14); He restores those who have sinned (Luke 22:32); He pours out His Spirit (Acts 4:31; 8:15); He gives boldness (Acts 4:31; Eph. 6:19-20); He sets people apart for ministry (Acts 6:6; 13:3); He opens the way for salvation (Acts 10:1ff.; Rom. 10:1); He opens doors for ministry (Col. 4:2-4); He sends special help (Acts 9:11-12); He heals (Acts 28:8; Jas. 5:14-16); He helps people mature in their faith (2 Cor. 13:9; Phil. 4:12); He causes love to increase (Phil. 1:9-10; 1 Thes. 3:12); He fills us with peace and guards our hearts (Phil. 4:7); He sanctifies (1 Tim. 4:5; 1 Thes. 3:13); He works miracles (Acts 12:5-17; 16:25-34); He gives wisdom (Jas. 1:5); He rewards (Matt. 6:6); He provides for our daily needs (Matt. 6:11); He keeps us from falling into temptation (Matt. 6:13; 26:41); He gives good gifts (Matt. 7:11); and He grants knowledge of His will enabling a godly, fruitful life (Col. 1:9-11).
Our Lord is indeed a God who hears and answers prayer! As the Psalmist testifies, "…The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!" (Psa. 84:11-12). The Apostle Paul also celebrates all that God can do through prayer: "Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory…" (Eph. 3:20-21). No wonder Paul spent so much time in prayer and calls us to devote ourselves to prayer (Col. 4:2; Rom. 12:12; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thes. 5:17).
Ask and You Will Receive
How tragic that many of God’s people do not spend sufficient amounts of time with Him in prayer. They miss out on His wonderful answers to prayer simply because they fail to ask Him. As the Apostle James writes, "…You do not have because you do not ask" (Jas. 4:2).
On the other hand, Jesus states, "Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you" (Matt. 7:7). The Lord invites us to pray, and He is faithful and gracious to respond when we seek Him and His help. When we draw near to Him, He promises to draw near to us (Jas. 4:8). Of course, He is a righteous and holy God, and we cannot continue to live in sin and expect Him to answer our prayers. "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil" (1 Pet. 3:12). We must be concerned about His will and His glory, and offer ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. We must be willing to wait upon Him, allowing Him to work in us what is pleasing to Him, and to work out His answers in His way and in His time. As we do, we can approach Him through Christ with full assurance that He will indeed "give what is good to those who ask Him!" (Matt. 7:11).
"Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in the time of need" (Heb. 4:16).