Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting prayers answered

Photo by Jamie Dupluss, courtesy www.photoxpress.com
Hello, my friend. Pull up a chair and warm yourself, it's time to delve into a Passionate Love: the relationship between God and you, and find out how to get prayers answered!

Are you starting to get it that God is passionate about you? Specifically you, not a general "you?"

He wants a relationship with you that is both like, and unlike, any other. Like any other in that He wants a two-way street. Imagine any relationship with someone you love. What do you do to express and increase that love?God wants that, as well.

He wants to spend time together in prayer both talking and listening, for us to make time for Him to read His Word, seeking wisdom and understanding, and to be proud to be with Him versus being a closet believer who acts one way in private and another in church.

He doesn't want us to fake it. He wants us to live it!

Unlike any other in that the subject of our passion is no mere human who can leave us or forsake us, but the Creator of Heaven and Earth who promises He will never leave or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

He wants us to experience the passion and power of a real, living, active, relationship with the Most High.

Now, this is where it gets dicey, because it's so easy for all of us (me included) to slip off into seeing God as a personal genie, there to make our dreams come true regardless of what His vision and plans are for our lives. We too easily take advantage of His loving nature and begin to make demands.

"If you will only do this for me, then I will serve you forever."

"Lord, if you will just help me out of this self-created mess one more time, I promise I will change my ways."

"If you give me one more sign, then I will believe in You."

"If you don't start making things turn out my way, I'm giving up on You."

"If you really loved me, you would not let this happen to me."

It gets dicey because God really does want the best for us. He wants to give us all that we need and even quite a bit of what we desire. He wants to bless us and answer our prayers.

The problem is that sometimes what we pray for is not going to give us what we really need in the long run, or what someone else really needs in the long run. So here is the dilemma.

How does a good parent say, "no," "not now but may be later," or "I know you think this is the best for you, but I am working out something even better," or even, "I know this hurts and doesn't make any sense to you, but it's got to happen this way for a bunch of reasons you just are not going to be able to accept or understand in this lifetime," without incurring the anger, hurt feelings, or even temper, of a child?

It's easier if the child believes the parent is overall good, loving, and would not do anything to intentionally hurt her. That the parent wants the best for that child, and would die for him, if necessary. That like it or not, the right thing to do is obey, and trust that even if she doesn't understand, the parent does, and something good will come from this situation.

Can you, as a parent or as a child, imagine this scenario?

We are the child, and God is the loving parent who is willing to do the job of parent, instead of trying to please us constantly like an over-achieving best friend. Sometimes (often) allowing us to feel disappointment, anger, and anguish for reasons that at times, we just don't understand.

We can choose to believe God is good, that He loves us, that He does have a good plan for us, and even when He does not intervene to prevent what hurts us, that He will bring something good from our pain. We can believe that He will comfort us, even when we don't understand why life does not seem to be working out the way we want it to.

Or, we can choose to stomp our feet and demand "Why isn't what I want happening!?"

I heard a self-defining comment at a sermon Sunday at StoneRidge Community Church in Decorah, IA. The pastor basically said that we want God to change our situation, but He is more interested in changing us.

See, we are interested in what's happening to us, but God is interested in what is happening in us. I think much of what we get so worked up about is keeping us from having what we want: answered prayers. Our focus is off.

According to the Word of God, we can have exactly what we want, as long as we are wanting the right things. What does that mean?

Well, do you really believe God wants you to have an expensive new car? May be He does want to bless you that way, but I bet His first concern is your heart, your intention, your financial behavior, your treatment of your family, and as for having a car, isn't the true need transportation and not an $85,000 trinket? 

Hmm, I am getting in your business now, aren't I?

May be He wants you to get married, but it might not be to that particular man or woman who is going to cause you nothing but heartbreak down the road.

May be He is shutting the door to that job you think is the answer to all of your prayers, because He is creating a situation in which you will become so desperate for His answer and not your own, that He can bring you into a job that will end up being exactly what you need, but one which you would not have even considered on your own.

So, the real answer is when does God answer prayers? Read James 5:16 .

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” NKJV

What is effective? A prayer that is answered and is active.

What is fervent? Come on now, you know this one. Passionate, sincere, humble, believing in His ability and desire to answer you.

What is righteous?  "It is living by every word of God (Matthew 4:4)

So the prayer of the righteous is answered . . . the prayer of one living by every word of God is answered.

Living by every word of God is not living perfectly, but living forgiven. It is not living without making mistakes, but living with a heart for God's will in your life. It's seeking His will first thing every morning, and it's living according to that will as you understand it.

Neither does living by the word of God mean living in fear of punishment. It means being truly sorry when you have behaved wrongly, been hurtful to others, or held a grudge, and telling Him so. It means getting to know God and doing your best to show Him love, in return for His. It means wanting what He wants, which is the best for your life.

Let me ask you, if your daily prayer was altered from "Lord, make my plans work out," to "Lord, I trust your plan for me today," do you think your level of satisfaction with your life might change?

Can you imagine praying, "Father, open my eyes to your will in my life, and give me a heart that desires only what is good for me?"

Taking yourself off the throne of your life, and putting God there instead takes a leap of faith. If you want a passionate relationship with the Most High, if you want your prayers answered, if you want to enjoy your life instead of seeing all the ways you are not getting your way, then it's worth it.

Let's pray:

Father, I've often stepped into Your role as King, in my life. I am sorry. I want Your will to rule my desires and my actions from now on. I want my prayers answered. I want to love what You love, and to enjoy the excitement and passion for life that only following You will give me! Take my life and make it Yours from now on. Help me to pray each day, and all day, "Not my will, but Yours." Amen

Love, Karen

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