I was reading a blog recently on another site, which was about our expectations in prayer, sort of a confession that the author often expects little to nothing to happen as a result. Could be a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy there. But the comments had more to do with how sometimes we pray, and it seems to be unanswered. Depending on the situation, it can really shake someone’s faith. The question became, why doesn’t God always answer our prayers? But being quite contrary, or just able to see two sides of most subjects, I would rather look at answered prayer to see if there are clues to why these other folks are not seeing answers.
That was my first response, you see, that I do see answers to my prayers. Sure there have been times when I felt as if I were praying to a brick wall. Clue number one, when that changed, it turned out the wall was inside of me. Okay, so you may be wondering whether I am here giving the stock answer, that if you have unconfessed sin God will not hear your prayers. I’m sure that’s true. I mean, if you are having an affair or something, you are probably not going to expect God to listen to you. But what if there is simply nothing that stands out on those lines? What could it be? Well, in my case the answer that God led me to had to do with self-protection.
Now I expect you think I have lost my mind. How on earth can reasonable caution toward danger be a sin. Well, step back a bit and it may make sense. I think we get hung up on the concept of sin, and I don’t want to make that the topic here, maybe another day. If you’ve read your bible at any length, you will note that over and over it says do not harden your hearts as the Israelites did on numerous occasions. I know, I always thought I could never do such a thing. Why, right after the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red sea, they were out there in the desert and whining and complaining without ever thinking that maybe this big unseen God who traveled with them as smoke and fire could take care of things. Surely I’m not like that!
But it is something we all do, I think, in a different way. Ever decided to stop letting situations and people get to you? Ever decided to just let things slide off your back, mentally of course, so you would not get hurt? Perhaps like me, you were told that that was healthy, that you were too sensitive. But in my bible, it says we are supposed to be tender hearted, forgiving… What? Yes, that decision made you a little hard hearted, and didn’t it let you avoid doing the work of forgiveness?
I still remember several years ago, when I first came across this concept. I was shocked because I could clearly remember doing that very thing, when I was in college. I don’t recall what provoked it, but I remember where I was and making a conscious decision not to let people hurt me any more. As a result, almost immediately I stopped hearing from God. There were a few times when He broke through, but mostly I found myself praying to a brick wall for years.
If this speaks to you, and you have been struggling with how silent God seems, repentance works wonders. And if you have a clear memory attached to that of how someone offended you to bring it on, forgiveness works wonders too. It starts as an act of the will, and often will lead you to a time of healing.
If that did not speak to you, then my question would be who is God to you? We tend to let life get us down and in the process, unless you are intentional about reminding yourself of who God really is, you may have forgotten more than you realize. I once spent the better part of a year reading Tozer on the attributes of God. One thing that really struck me was his take on God’s power. I’m doing this from memory, so it won’t be near a quote, but he said as the creator, God is the source of all the power in the universe. So how dare we take the attitude that He can’t do something? There is nothing He cannot do. So if nothing is impossible for God, aren’t we selling Him short if all we give Him are puny requests? Maybe He sometimes says no, when he knows we are just asking for something we could manage on human power and ingenuity. He is a big God, and He wants us to get that. Ask Him for things that only He can do, and perhaps you will be amazed by His answers.