First off let me start by saying God is good. And I don’t say that because I want to win some kind of brownie points with God. I’m saying God is good because God is good. God cares about us. He loves us. He hears our prayers and He answers our prayers.
But…we don’t always get what it is we are praying for. Sometimes praying can be confusing. For example, do we pray to the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit? If we always get what we pray for then why didn’t I get what it was I was praying for? Sometimes the answers don’t come. Sometimes God remains silent.
Job was a man who prayed to God and asked Him why those terrible things were happening to Him. And what did God say? Nothing. God never answered Job – at least not right away. God allowed Job to sit there with the death of his 10 children, the death of some servants, the wiping out of his entire fortune – and then when Job asked God why this was happening…God didn’t answer.
So Job says in Job 34:29
“But if he chooses to remain quiet, who can criticize him? When he hides his face, no one can find him, whether an individual or a nation.”
I personally really hate that – I get sad and depressed when I am praying for something and it doesn’t happen and God doesn’t tell me why. That really discourages me. I sit very sad and I can feel a lump of something in the pit of my stomach and my energy is sapped and I don’t want to go on.
Sometimes God answers us and tells us that we have to do what we don’t want to do – even if we plead with Him that we don’t want to do it. Sometimes God’s plan for our lives is the path of suffering.
Think about Jesus before He went to the cross to suffer and die. Jesus went to a garden to a pray. In Luke 22 we read about how Jesus asked God to remove the cup of suffering that lay before Him on the cross if it was possible. Jesus even sweat great drops of blood while He prayed. But God send an angel to strengthen Jesus so that Jesus would be able to endure the cross.
This is what it says in Luke 22:41-44
“He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
Sometimes Jesus prays for us when He knows we are going to fall.
We read about this when Peter – one of Jesus’ amazing disciples – tells Jesus that he would be willing to die for Jesus. Jesus tells Peter that Peter will deny Him. And when Peter comes back from his sorrow and failure Jesus tells Peter to strengthen his brothers and sisters in Christ.
In Luke 22:31 we read
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.” But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Sometimes God gives us what we are praying for. In fact we know that this happens many times.
Think of Hannah the woman in the Bible who wasn’t able to get pregnant. She was very sad about that; so much so that she was in anguish when people would make fun of her about it. So one day she went to God in prayer and let it all hang out. This is what she did in 1st Samuel chapter 1:
“As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
Sometimes God says no.
In b we read about King David committed adultery and murdered the woman’s husband. The woman was pregnant and a prophet of the Lord came to David and told him the son born to David and his adulterous woman would die. David pleaded for the boy with God and this is what happened.
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan answered, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You will not die. But what you did caused the Lord’s enemies to lose all respect for him. For this reason the son who was born to you will die.”
Then Nathan went home. And the Lord caused the son of David and Bathsheba, Uriah’s widow, to be very sick. David prayed to God for the baby. David fasted and went into his house and stayed there, lying on the ground all night. The elders of David’s family came to him and tried to pull him up from the ground, but he refused to get up or to eat food with them.
On the seventh day the baby died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the baby was dead. They said, “Look, we tried to talk to David while the baby was alive, but he refused to listen to us. If we tell him the baby is dead, he may do something awful.”
When David saw his servants whispering, he knew that the baby was dead. So he asked them, “Is the baby dead?”
They answered, “Yes, he is dead.”
So God said to David – no. I am not going to give you what you want. God also said not to the Apostle Paul.
And we read about the Apostle Paul who asked God to take away this terrible pain Paul had in his life. And God said no. God said
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
Sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for.
And once when Jesus was walking along he came upon a blind man and this is what happened:
“As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied. Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.”
And sometimes God says “ok you don’t have to do it, I’ll get someone else to do it for you.” This is what happened to Moses when he said to God that he really didn’t want to do the talking in front of the Pharaoh.
“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”
Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. He will be delighted to see you. Talk to him, and put the words in his mouth. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will instruct you both in what to do. Aaron will be your spokesman to the people. He will be your mouthpiece, and you will stand in the place of God for him, telling him what to say. And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.”
So God does answer our prayers. He always does. God cares about us and loves us. We don’t always understand His answers and even know if He answered us or not. But God does love us and He cares about us very much. So pray – and God will answer.