2000-07-11 - Prayer
Summer Question Series, Part 1
Matthew 6:21 For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.
I would like to thank all of you who wrote in with questions. I think I might have enough to fill every Tuesday for the rest of the year at this point, but keep them coming. They are all very interesting and all worthy of an answer. You don't have to agree with my take or response to the question, and I will be the first to admit that I might not answer correctly, but I am trying to be careful to avoid error, answer the question, and keep it on a devotional level. Also, I failed to mention that I will never give out your name on these questions and I will even change cities, and names when needed to protect those who submit the questions. Several questions that came today regarded prayer, Here is one...
"I have a question that I would like for you to consider using in one of your Tuesday devotional. I was wondering if when you pray you should expect God to always answer in the affirmative? I know that the first response is going to be: No, God may give a yes or no or even a wait, however I know several Christians who believe if they faithfully pray for something they are promised it by God. Am I out in left field or can they be wrong? I believe that if it is in God's will he will answer with a yes and expect his will to be done as long as I am living in his will. But some of my fellow Christians believe and testify that God is going "to give them the desires of their hearts"...and I am not just talking about spiritual things or physical healing, they believe they will be attaining materialistic items as well. They say we are coming into "prosperity" and God has promised his people these things and honestly expect them. Can you help me out here? I've read about prosperity and do not get the idea he is speaking of material wealth but of spiritual blessings."
There are several questions here, I think. The first has to do with prayer and whether God grants our requests when we ask. Has God obligated Himself to say yes to the desires of our heart? And I think you know the answer, because you said it yourself. But lets look a little at two examples from Scripture. In 2 Samuel 11 and 12 we have recorded David's adultery with Bathsheba and the punishment, which was the death of the resulting child. David went well beyond prayer in his appeal to God to spare the life of his child. He fasted and lay on the ground for seven days, and yet the child died. The answer was no.
There is another example from Scripture however. It is that of Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 20:1, Isaiah comes to Hezekiah with a disturbing message from the Lord, "Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live." In verse 2 we have Hezekiah's response to the message, "he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord" The result? In verse 6 we read that God added fifteen years to his life. His prayer was answered in the affirmative. And that is nature of prayer in Scripture. Sometimes God grants our requests, other times He does not, but regardless, we can say, even when the answer is no, or wait, that God still hears our prayers and answers them. The Bible testifies to this.
As far as God granting the materialistic desires or items to those who seek them through prayer. Who is to say, maybe God will grant those prayers, maybe He wont. I don't see in Scripture where God is obligated to grant any such desires, but there is no reason why He can't. There is a deeper issue here. Remember in 1 Kings 3:5 when God says to Solomon, "Ask what you wish me to give you," and Solomon prays for wisdom. Remember the response of God to Solomon's prayer, in summary, you didn't ask for a long life, or money, or that your enemies be destroyed, and therefore I not only grant you your request for wisdom, but I am going to give you all these other things also.
One of the reasons I read writers from bygone days, say 300-400 years ago, is because I am always so struck by their heavenly mindedness, or earthlessness, if that is a word. They often remind me to, "keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth." Colossians 3:1,2. I think that this needs to be the mindset of the Christian. It is so easy to get caught up in earthiness, but earthiness is a snare to our fellowship and walk with Christ. Our focus should be upon Christ, His cause, His kingdom, and His glory.
I find that whenever I get something new, it is exciting. Like the new pair of shorts I got last week at an outlet store, that I have on right now. But I must always remind myself that these things are perishing things. They do not last. They will burn, as easily as everything else I own. We should rather seek to lay up our treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy (Matthew 6:19). And this should be our mindset. Let us focus on heavenly mindedness, and I am sure that in so doing, we will experience a joy that no earthly joy can surpass.
Soli Deo Gloria,