In recent days, referring to my medical treatments in Pittsburgh, I’ve had a number of people say to me, “I’m so thankful that God has answered your prayers.”
Trust me… I’m grateful for the fact that I’m doing well and feeling good and that things seem to be going well. I’m very grateful for that!!!
But I have spent a lot of time reflecting on what it means for God to “answer our prayers.” In no particular order, here are some of my rambling thoughts about God answering our prayers…
- There is a great deal about prayer I don’t understand. At its heart, prayer is an ongoing conversation I have with God which keeps me connected and in touch with the God who created me and who is with me every step of my life. Prayer is much more than just a time for me to pour out my requests to God.
- Prayer involves so much more than asking God for things. It is a time for praise and for confession. Nothing is out of bounds in prayer. Nothing is too great or too small to share in prayer. Prayer is the one place where we can be completely honest. God already knows what’s on our mind… why try to hide it? (Check out the honesty of Psalm 22.)
- I am absolutely convinced that God answers all of our prayers. Sometimes God answers my prayer exactly the way I want it to be answered, but sometimes God has something else in mind. We need to be careful when we say that God answers our prayers. Too often what we really mean is “God answered my prayers the way I wanted them answered.” The challenge in life is to learn to accept God’s answer even when it isn’t what I wanted! That isn’t always easy.
- I’ve discovered that there have been times when I prayed for one thing, but God had something else in mind. As difficult as it was at the time to accept God’s answer, I have also had those opportunities when I was able to look back and admit (not surprisingly!) that God’s response really was the best one for me!
- These prayers are all more difficult when it comes to personal issues like our own health or the health of loved ones. For reasons which I cannot explain or understand, there have been times when I have prayed for someone’s physical healing and it didn’t occur, and there have been times when I am confident no one was praying for healing in someone’s life and that person was healed. I’m not sure I can explain that.
- When those prayers of healing are not answered the way I want them to be answered, I find myself drawn to the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11. Go take a look at it… all ten were physically healed, but only one was “made well.” The word for being made well is the same as to be saved or rescued or made whole. As much as I pray for physical healing, at the end of the day, I’m grateful that God has made me well. Physical healing is temporary at best. Being made well is eternal.
- I could go on and on about prayer. It’s a vital part of who I am as a follower of Jesus. Through prayer and Scripture, I stay in touch with the God who disturbs me when I grow too comfortable and comforts me when I am disturbed. Even when I don’t understand it or can’t explain it, I know I need to keep on praying!
I hope you do as well.
By the way…. I am praying for my physical healing, and I’m grateful for your prayers as well. I tolerated my treatment well, and we’ll go back to Pittsburgh in February for follow up scans. We won’t be surprised if they need to repeat the procedure again. Thankfully, it is a process which can be repeated numerous times.
For now, I’m enjoying Advent with the congregation of the Roswell Presbyterian Church. I’ll be preaching at all three services on Sunday, and look forward to celebrating the Second Sunday of Advent with you!