By Wang Nan
Many brothers and sisters in the Lord have such confusion: “I also sincerely prayed to the Lord, but it seemed that the Lord did not listen to and answer my prayers.” We are often confused by this. How can this happen? Is the Lord not the One who listens to prayers? We do sincerely pray, why can’t we get the Lord’s response? Before we look for the reason, let us consider the following questions first: How do we want God to answer our prayers? Do we know how God answers our prayers? If we do not know how God answers our prayers, isn’t it easy to miss God’s answer?
I remember I have seen such a short story:
A priest, trapped on the roof during a flood, prayed earnestly to God and he also believed God would come to save him. After the, he saw there came a small boat, then a large ship and a helicopter, but he refused all their rescues, for he believed that God would come to save him. In the end, the priest was sucked in the flood by a large wave and was drowned.
After reading this story, can we say God doesn’t come to save him? No, God does come to save him. These rescue teams are all sent by God, but the priest misses them. In fact, in our experience, just like the priest, while praying to God, we are still imagining and expecting God to respond to us according to our own requirements and ways. If what God does did not meet our imagination, we would think God doesn’t answer our prayers. In many cases, it is not that God does not respond to our prayers, but rather that we do not know the ways God answers our prayers. We all know that God is the Creator while we are creatures, so it’s up to God how to answer our prayers. We should take up our position and learn to seek, accept and obey, but not to ask and expect God to respond to our prayers in the way we imagine, otherwise the loss will be on our own!
The Lord once promised us: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (Mat 7:7-8). The word of the Lord is faithful, and God is as good as His word and His word shall be accomplished, but how does God answer our prayers and knocking? As we open the Bible, it is not hard to see the ways God responds to our prayers are often beyond our imagination and break our notions. In the Old Testament age, the Israelis were exploited indefinitely by the Egyptians and lived a life as prisoners. In pain, the Israelis prayed to Jehovah God and asked Him to save them from Egyptian Pharaoh’s control. However, instead of saving the Israelis from Egypt in a moment as they imagined, Jehovah God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. Because it was in disagreement with the conceptions of them, Israelis had a great deal of rebelliousness and defiance toward Jehovah God, finally resulting in wandering for 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land of Canaan. In the late period of the Age of Law, Israelis lived miserably under the slave rule of the Roman government. They prayed and called on Messiah to come quickly to save them from Roman’s slavery. However, when Messiah, the, whom they desperately yearn for, came to do work in a practical way to save them, they crucified Him on account of the work of the Lord Jesus not in line with their notions. From these two historical facts, we can see that although people and pray to God, they become those who oppose God because of not knowing how God fulfills His promises to man.
In fact, God has been speaking to us through all things, answering our prayers, and telling us His will. He has never been hidden from us. As long as we pay a little attention, and experience and appreciate the people, events, and objects with heart every day, we will see God is around us and guides us all the time. I saw a passage of God’s word saying: “When you look to God, it’s possible that He doesn’t give you any feeling or any clear ideas, much less any clear directions, but He allows you to understand something. Or maybe this time you haven’t understood anything, but is it then right to look to God? Is it wrong? No, it isn’t wrong. People practicing in this way is not done to follow rules, but rather it is the needs of their hearts and is how man should practice. It’s not that you can obtain enlightenment and guidance every time you look to God and call on God. This kind of spiritual state in life is normal and natural. Looking to God is people’s normal contact with God in their hearts.
“Sometimes, looking to God doesn’t mean speaking clearly when you pray to God for something, or for God to guide you in some way, or that you pray to God for protection; rather it is that, when you encounter some issue, you are able to call on Him sincerely. So, what is God doing there? When someone’s heart stirs, and they have this idea: “Oh God, I can’t do this myself, I don’t know how to do it, and I’m weak and dispirited,” when these thoughts arise in them, does God not know about it? When these thoughts arise in man, are people’s hearts sincere? When they call on God sincerely in this way, does God assent to help them? Despite the fact that they may not have spoken a word, they show sincerity, and so God assents to help them.” Actually,has never been hidden from us. As long as we sincerely pray before God, He will see our heart and answer us. In many cases, the reason why we do not get God’s answer is not that God does not respond to us but that we believe in the vague God, just like the priest in the story. God is the living God, and always by our side. When we are in difficulty and call on God, He knows and arranges people, events, and objects practically to help us, so that our difficulties can be solved and we can understand God’s intentions. On the contrary, if we believe in the vague God and ignore God’s practical work, we will lose His salvation.
As a matter of fact, the ways God answers are by no means as simple as we imagine. The ways God answers us are various and we have truly experienced some in our prayers of many years. For example: Sometimes, God will give us clear words, and we know how to do it through the guidance of God’s Words; sometimes, God will remind us through the people, events and objects around us, someone saying or doing something, our difficulties will suddenly be solved; at other times, God will enlighten and move us, so we ponder and then understand unknowingly. These are several common ways God answers us. We can say that every brother and sister who truly believes in God has such experience. We are unable to fathom God’s wisdom, and there are many other ways God responds in our experiences, which requires us to appreciate with heart.
Prayer is the most direct way to establish normal relations with God. Through prayer, we receive the work of the Holy Spirit and strengthen our spirit; through prayer, we understand God’s will and know how to become a person to comply with God’s will; through prayer, we are protected by God and gradually walk on the way of fearing God and shunning evil. … Without prayer we can’t obey God, obey His work, and carry out His will. Prayers are crucial to our belief in God and pursuit of truth to be perfected. Prayer is opening and leading the way, through which we finally gain the power from God to practice the truth, do our duty well and satisfy God. So prayers play the most crucial role in our life experiences. Thus it has become even more important to learn to pray to the practical God and listen to His response!
All the glory be to God!
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