Intercession - When God Does Not do What We Ask

This month, our meditation has been excerpted from the book entitled, Bound to Be Free compiled by Jan Pit. In the following short quotation from Lung Singh (from Laos.  It was rumored that Singh was killed by his brother because of his faith in Jesus Christ.  Jan Pit edited Lung Singh's experiences and remarks), there is fodder for reflection and perhaps application:

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:9)

An answer to prayer does not necessarily mean that God always gives you what you have asked for.  Yet His motivation is always love, though we may not always understand Him.

After Singh had prayed, he calmed down.  But the wind didn't abate.  It seemed to get even more stormy.  I looked at Singh while he testified of his faith in Jesus Christ.  The wind of which Singh had been so afraid of was whining around the house.  I called Singh and told him that the wind was really very strong now and I offered to bring him home in my land-rover, so that his wife and child and he himself didn't have to be afraid anymore.  Singh looked at me in astonishment:  'But I am no longer afraid.  We just prayed about it, didn't we?  It's alright now.'

Outside the wind was howling, but Singh was quiet.  At home, his wife was sound asleep and their child was safe also.  The wind didn't drop as I had expected it to.  God answered our prayer by bestowing peace in the hearts of those who needed it.  I had learned my lesson.

For today's storms the Lord has His own solutions.

A moment of introspection: If you are like me, you've many times asked specific requests of God, in prayer--only to wait for months or longer for His answer.  You've interceded on behalf of imprisoned brothers or sisters of the faith, who languish in darkness because of others' cruelty toward them as Christians; you've perchance asked God to release the man or woman and restore their cherished freedom (claiming Isaiah 61:1), Or perhaps you've implored God to heal the wounds of one attacked for his/her faith (citing Isaiah 53:5; James 5:15; or the faith that heals in Matthew 9:20-22). But God doesn't do what we ask of him.  Many other examples would beg for our consideration, as well. 

Brother Lungh Singh takes the approach of God's divinity, in explaining God's obvious inaction.  Who would argue that God's ways are not higher than our ways nor His thoughts than our thoughts.  Perhaps in some instances God does not do what we ask, because we do not understand God's thoughts in regards to the situation for which we intercede.

Perhaps we are stymied when our prayers are not seemingly heard, because we tend to generalize from the specific:  if God released Peter and Silas (Acts 16:25-35) from prison, for example, then he may also release "this brother" from his prison in Peru.  So we pray for the release of our fellow Christian in Peru, citing Peter's and Silas' rescue.  But God does not answer our prayer.  Rather, He uses the jailed brother in Peru to win prisoners to His kingdom within the prison walls.  Or our brother becomes sick and dies still in prison.  Or God leaves him in prison for years more.  God does not treat individual Christians the same; our brother in the faith, in Peru, is not Peter; nor is he Silas.  God treats the one for whom we pray the way He wills.  It is God who stands by His own promise in Romans 8:28:  "In all things God works for the good of those who are called according to His purpose."  God knows what is good for the person for whom we pray.

We often pray "in real time"--meaning that some larger event is happening even as we are praying.  We bring our intercessory prayer out and pray fervently for those involved in suffering NOW.  "God doing what we ask" sometimes means we want the answer immediately.  When He doesn't answer within the parameters we set, we get to feeling that He may not have heard our prayer; His attention might have been elsewhere; or we didn't pray hard enough.  None of these suppositions may be correct.  But just as His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, time to Him is also different than to us.

Lung Singh, perhaps, stated the issue most succinctly: "For today's storms the Lord has His own solutions."  Someone once stated that prayer does as much to change us, as it does to change events.  But the heart of God is moved by prayer (Genesis 18:16-33) and God values prayer from righteous persons (1 Peter 3:12a; James 5:16b; Proverbs 15:8,29).

Let us continue to bless the persecuted church with our prayers, always seeking to know God's mind--to learn from Him and to let Him instruct us.  Notice, that Mr. Singh says "...the Lord has His own solutions."  God offers solutions; we can trust Him to answer our prayers in His own wisdom--the way He wishes, and in His own timing.  Let us be faithful in asking and interceding.

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