The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
Why do prayers go unanswered? The Bible provides a number of reasons.
1. First, love. That is, God loves us to the degree He alway acts in our best interests. The prayers He answers align with this devotion of His heart to ours. If we ask for that which will bring us harm, He will refrain from answering. Indeed, we may sometimes request a serpent we perceive as bread. Let us be grateful He does not answer such prayers, as challenging as His non-answer may be. This, our Father does not because He does not care, but because He cares so much.
2. Next, selfishness. "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3). If our request proceeds from "the law of sin" in our flesh rather than "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" that dwells in our spirits, our Father will not answer. He has no desire to confirm or reward self-centeredness (Romans 7:25; 8:2). We often do not realize our prayers proceed from motives that do not meet the test of God's calling to unselfish devotion to Him and others. Again, this directs us to His love, in this case, His indwelling love that must lead and empower all true prayer. "Walk in love" most certainly includes our prayers, which must flow from the Lord Jesus' devotion to His Father and to people (Ephesians 5:2).
3. Ignorance. "If we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (I John 5:14). If we do not know God's will about matters, we may certainly "ask amiss." This greatly challenges every believer because "we know not what to pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26). We know many of the generalities of God's will, as revealed in Scripture, and pray accordingly. However, the specifics as applied to the lives of others and our own experience often completely escape us. Thus, one of the best and most humbling realities of the Christian life involves the challenge of praying in accordance with God's will. We do well to often affirm to Him our weakness in the matter. Thereby, we prepare ourselves for His leading and enabling, as directed by the Holy Spirit's application of the Word of God to our hearts, minds, and prayers. "Give me understanding according to Thy Word" (Psalm 119:169).
4. Deception. As personal as prayer may be, the matter also involves much Biblical doctrine. We will not pray well without hearts and minds consistently exposed to the light of God in Scripture. We seek God in prayer for "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). If we become deceived about God and His ways, we will not pray rightly because we will misinterpret His intentions and His working. Thus, we consistently seek confirmation and correction regarding our understanding in order to consistently make our requests in accordance with Biblical truth. "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105).
5. Unbelief. "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matthew 13:58). Simply asking God to do something does not meet the full requirement for His answers. We must make our requests with a trusting, expectant heart (James 1:6-7). This presents much challenge because our flesh bears no interest or capacity for faith. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit" (Galatians 5:17). We must therefore anticipate internal challenge regarding prayer and faith. Regardless of contrary feelings or thoughts that course through our earthly faculties, we must make the determined choice to believe that God will answer our prayers, if prayed in accordance with His will. Let us expect a fight in the matter, "the good fight of faith" waged in our very being as we walk in prayer (I Timothy 6:12).
6. Pleasure, God's and ours. This may seem an unlikely candidate for considering unanswered prayer. However… "the prayer of the upright is His delight… In Thy presence is fullness of joy, at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore" (Proverbs 15:8; Psalm 16:11). We must view prayer in terms of bringing literal pleasure to the heart of God - "His delight." He loves the humble, trusting prayers of His sons and daughters in Christ. Moreover, while we will not always feel pleasure as we pray, we must have the conviction of joy as an established path upon which our communion with God proceeds. Curmudgeons who view prayer as merely an exercise in dogged and disciplined determination need not approach the throne of grace. The God who delights in our prayers surely has no interest in such heartless fellowship. Nor should we. "Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy" declared the Psalmist (Psalm 43:4). Remembering the gladness of God in our prayers will go far in infusing our hearts with the same joy in the depths of our spirits, even in those times when we must pray in sadness and with tears streaming down our faces. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10).
7. Finally, glory. "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). Prayer most certainly constitutes a doing, one of the most vital of our pursuits as born again believers in the Lord Jesus. Thus, we pray with "Hallowed by Thy Name" as our primary motivation of love for God that must form and inform all fellowship with Him (Matthew 6:9). Those who well know the path of blood - Christ's blood - that paved our path to the throne of grace, long to honor the One who knew shame, sorrow, forsakenness, and death to make prayer possible. Indeed, only a "throne of grace" could beckon us to "come boldly" (Hebrews 4:16). Any other Heavenly seat would bar our access. Such awareness hallows our hearts with "Hallowed be Thy Name" as the motivation of all prayers, and the basis of God's answers.
The consideration of answered and unanswered prayers could go on and on. We conclude by suggesting our determination to better know the truth of prayer must also go on and on. The disciples who witnessed the greater Pray-er of the greatest prayers ever offered well knew such truth. They themselves prayed one of the wisest requests ever offered. We do well to join them…
"Lord, teach us to pray."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." (I Corinthians 1:30)
shared with a dear friend yesterday that 99.99% of the Bible involves God's revelation and glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. We exist to know Him, and to find in such holy light the reality, reason, and ramifications of our existence (John 17:3). The Holy Spirit who indwells us ever works to reveal and glorify the Lord Jesus (John 15:28; 16:14). However, I also mentioned to my friend that a .01% place exists for the believer's self-knowledge and awareness. To know God means we will know ourselves in the context of Christ, as it were. "Ye are in Christ Jesus… He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit" (I Corinthians 1:30; 6:17). Of all that God sees of us, we can be sure this is first and this is primary. Indeed, how can it not be so when we consider…
"He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
If God gave His Son to the cross to make possible and actual His giving of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, could it be that He sees us with any other essential focus? If He poured out His wrath on the Lord Jesus so that He might pour out the Spirit into our spirits, will He ever overlook this "hope of glory, which is Christ in you?" And if He left His beloved Lord Jesus to die alone in utter abandonment to make possible His presence within us, will He ever take leave of seeing us in terms less than "Ye are the temple of the living God?" (II Corinthians 6:16).
Find the most faithful believer on the planet in this moment, and you will find one viewed by God as united to the Spirit of His Son. Find the most failing believer on the planet in this moment, and you will find one viewed by God as united to the Spirit of His Son. Too much was sacrificed for the Divine gaze upon us to be other or less. Certainly, our faithful or failing response to Him matters much, and He works to enhance the former, and correct the latter. However, God's first gaze ever sees us in light of the cross, the empty tomb, and the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ within us. We must see ourselves accordingly. "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).
This is the .o1% - how we view ourselves - based on the 99.99% - how we view God. But how important it is. To share God's view of Christ in us and ourselves in Christ will go far in motivating and empowering a corresponding life of faith and faithfulness. Moreover, our Savior suffered agonized abandonment on the cross to bestow such grace upon and within us. We will never throughout eternity, or in this lifetime, live a moment apart from the Holy Spirit's abiding and empowering presence within us. Yes, God gave Himself to dwell within our hearts when we believed. He will not leave. This is how He views us. This is how we must view ourselves.
"I am with you always… I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
(Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)
"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Weekly Memory Verse