If God healed everyone who wanted to stay alive, the world would have been tragically overpopulated a long time ago. And churches would be filled with people like the stalkers who followed Jesus around the Sea of Galilee- not interested in truth, but hungry for another miracle meal. So you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why all prayers cannot be answered as requested.
I’ve had the privilege of praying over a desperately ill woman and feeling the room quake. When I opened my eyes, she was looking directly at me in shock because she had felt the tremor as well. And she was healed so completely that the doctors cancelled the heart surgery they’d hoped would save her, and sent her home rejoicing. But I’ve also had the rare privilege of watching some of the godliest people I’ve ever known close their eyes and slip quietly away to Heaven. Who knows why God says “Yes” to some prayers but “I’ve got a better idea” to others?
I haven’t found the answer to that question yet. But I’ve learned some other important lessons about prayer and calling on the Lord. Here are a few things I know for sure:
1. Faith never asks God to change his plans for me. It asks God to change me to fit his plans. That’s why Jesus prayed, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine.”
2. Prayer is one way we discover the height and depth and breadth of God’s love in Christ. It is a learning experience, sometimes in the Valley of the Shadow. That’s why Paul eventually stopped praying for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. He stopped asking when he discovered that God was his strength and his comfort.
3. Faith is not the absence of doubt. It is the presence of trust. For this reason, God sometimes sends his spirit to pray through us with sighs and groans because we don’t know what to say.
4. Prayer realizes God sends answers every day– when I eat my daily bread; when I forgive the people who have injured me; when I escape the coils of temptation. Living faith is grateful faith.
5. Faith sometimes encourages me to close my mouth and open my Bible. After a few minutes of talking about my problems, it is reinvigorating to sort out the Father’s ideas in his presence. This much I know.
Lift up the Cross!