Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prayers God always Says Yes To

If you were to read through the apostle Paul's letters you would see him stopping at regular intervals to pray, to praise God and worship Him, and sometimes just to shout “Alleluia, Amen!”

Philip Yancey opens his book on prayer with this quote: “When a doctoral student at Princeton asked, ‘What is there left in the world for original dissertation research?’ Albert Einstein replied, ‘Find out about prayer. Somebody must find out about prayer.’”

Yancey goes on to explain that every faith has a form of prayer, every ancient faith, and every remote tribe enjoins deity in some kind of prayer. Prayer is universal because it speaks to some basic human need. According to the Gallup poll more Americans will pray this week than will exercise, drive a car, or go to work. But as Yancey began to interview people here’s what he discovered. People consider prayer to be very important. They pray every day. But for how long? Maybe 5 minutes.

He asked, “Do you find prayer satisfying?” ...Not really. He asked, “Do you sense the presence of God when you pray?...Occasionally, not often. Many of the people the author talked with found prayer to be more of a burden than a pleasure. They found prayer to be one of the most important things in life, so they felt guilty about their failure, blaming themselves.

Sometimes it feels like God doesn’t answer prayer. Why didn’t God cure my mother’s cancer? Why doesn’t God send me some money so I can pay these bills? Why hasn’t God given me a friend when I am so lonely? Why didn’t God save my sister’s marriage? What’s going on? In the face of all our problems you and I want to know why God so often seems silent. If God exists, and He’s really listening, then why doesn’t prayer seem to work sometimes?

In my continuing study of prayer, I came across a delightful book written by the Catholic author, Anthony DeStefano, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems." In this series of ten posts, I will take what I think is the best of what DeStefano has to say -- what continues to bless and enrich my own time of prayer with our Lord.

Prayer does work, all the time, but sometimes you and I are not asking the right questions and we’re not looking for the answers that God is giving. Sometimes the answer is something we don’t want to hear. Sometimes God says no when we’re at our most vulnerable. Sometimes God says no to us when we’ve been on our knees, pleading with Him in tears. It seems like God says no an awful lot, doesn’t it?

Part of the reason for these refusals is that you and I might be looking at prayer in a distorted way. We’re using the consumer mentality which has a list of things we’ve decided are good and we should have. So long as we have this mentality, we’re going to be upset every time God says no to a request.

God is going to give you and me what we need, not necessarily what we want. He has our ultimate good, our eternal good, in mind, as well as His glory and His ultimate plan for all creation. Every request is weighed against His glory, and this good.

So let’s look at prayers that God will answer yes to every time, prayers that really truly work, prayers that will always be for ultimate good, for spiritual life and growth, that serve God’s purposes in your life, and His plan for the world.

These prayers will meet certain fundamental spiritual needs that you and I have, they will never conflict with God’s will for us. God will always be happy and delighted to say yes them, and once granted, our lives are going to change.

Curious what these prayers are? I’ll give you ten of them, and the first one is:

God, show me You are there.

God says that when you look for Him, and you really want to find Him, He will make sure you see Him (Jer 29:13; 33:3) Philosophers have managed to prove God exists through logic – Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Pascal, and many others. Some of their proofs are famous. But in the case of faith, God is not an argument, or a concept. He is a living being Who desires relationship with you. The question is, do you desire relationship with Him? If you do, for real, then pray “God, show me you are there” and see what happens next.

If this post got you to thinking, please leave a comment and join the conversation

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