1.Why does God sometimes answer the same day that I pray about something and other times it seems He never answers or I have to pray for a year or 10 or 20 years or a month? 2. Why won't God heal me? 3. Why do I feel like I am just talking to the ceiling? 4. Is there a "right way" to pray? Can't I just say whatever is on my mind?
These are questions we all have. And I am in search of the answers to them. I have been reading a book (shocker, I know) called Intercessory Prayer by Dutch Sheets. I have been reading another book, too, called The Holy Bible by God. And I have been learning a lot. I'm going to start with a couple of verses that really jumped off the page at me,
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
(Angel is talking to Daniel)
Then he said to me, "Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words."
If you want wisdom, ask for it. Set your heart to understand and humble yourself before God. Make up your mind that you want to know what God wants. Pray, but listen. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is in you. He will speak to you, maybe not in audible words, but you will hear Him in your mind and heart. Those thoughts that are persistent, "Go talk to her. Help that woman carry her groceries. Stop watching that show you love so much. Invite her over. Pray for ____ right now." These are not just your own thoughts. The Holy Spirit is urging you to do the work of God. In others and in your own life. But you won't hear Him if you don't listen.
1. I've seen many answers to prayer and I've prayed lots and not seen answers yet. Prayer is our conversation with God. It's not just a wish list. In the Bible, God often had His people do something, an act of obedience, in order to bring about God's plan. Walk around Jericho for 7 days and blow trumpets and the walls are gonna fall down. Really? Ok. Jesus spit in the guy's eyes to make him see again. He didn't need to do that. He could've just said, "See!" Another guy had to wash in the Jordan River(not the cleanest river to say the least) 7 times to be healed. Moses had to hold up his arms in order for the Israelites to defeat Amalek. Here are some modern day examples of obedience in prayer...
A pastor regularly prayed for one hour every morning. One day, he felt strongly that he should pray longer. He prayed another hour. He still felt the need to pray longer. He prayed another hour and the urge left him. Later that day as he was mowing his lawn, a rattlesnake was trying to bite his leg but every time it got near him, its head would go off to the side and it was unable to bite him.
A missionary's 3 year old son was dying of a high fever and the doctors could do nothing more. They had been praying for hours with no results. The father felt that there was an evil power over his son and called his praying friends to pray, too. Shortly after he called them, the fever broke and his son was fine. Why didn't God answer when the family was praying? Why call in more people to pray? I don't know. He just wanted them to.
Dutch Sheet's wife had a large cyst that would need to be surgically removed as it was growing and causing her a lot of pain. He asked the doctor for 2 months to pray first before scheduling the surgery. Dutch prayed for one hour every day for 2 weeks and then the urge to pray was gone. God told him it was dealt with. Three days later, his wife said that all the pain was gone. They went to the doctor and the cyst was gone. Why 2 weeks? Why an hour a day? God wanted him to be faithful in prayer. Obedient in prayer. Persistent in prayer.
Too often, we pray once about something and then just wait around for it to happen. Well I asked, didn't I? The ball's in God's court now. No it's not. We need to be persistent in prayer.
2. Why won't God heal me?
I don't have all the answers to this one, but here's what God's been teaching me. I suffer from depression. Have for years. I take meds for it and it's "under control", but I kinda want it gone. I had an "all-out" with God a few weeks back about it and this is what He told me, "Read about Paul in the Bible. He had a "thorn" in his flesh, see what it says." This is what it says in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
"...So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong..."
a. God sometimes doesn't heal us because He uses imperfect people for His purposes. Our pride gets in the way. When someone like me is doing the will of God and something miraculous happens, He gets all the credit, cuz I'm just a mom who suffers from depression. The miracle is not mine, it is only worked through me. The credit belongs to God. God used Moses, who had a speech problem, to go to the king and lead God's people to the promised land. Moses didn't want to go, so God let him bring Aaron to do the talking for him. He needs us to be humbled before Him. If we are full of pride, we are pretty useless.
b. Sometimes, God doesn't heal us because we are not persistent in prayer or because we lack faith. I have always thought, "I should pray for ___ that God will heal them. But I'm not going to pray for myself for healing. If God wanted to heal me, He would." That's baloney. Maybe God isn't going to heal me, but I can pray about it! Paul prayed three times for God to remove the thorn in his flesh. Believe that God can heal you, be persistent. Either He'll heal you or He'll show you why He's not gonna heal you. He's not going to leave you in the dark on this. He loves to answer his children. He does not delight in seeing us confused. Seek and you will find. There are answers, go look for them!
And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.