Each week CLS-UW Law Chapter shares a scripture or short devotional to help  students prepare  for the upcoming week.  Please check back for updates.

April 2012

(From Christian Legal Society)

CLS Bi-weekly Devotional
Vol 4., No. 6
April 2012
by Brady Tarr
God Answers Every Prayer of a Christian

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone at a group gathering where lots of conversations are going on at the same time and while you’re talking with a friend you overhear part of the conversation that is going on next to you and realize that they are talking about something way more interesting that your conversation.  Maybe it’s the deep theological issue that you have been dying to talk to someone about or the inside scoop on the latest supreme court case. When you overhear this conversation taking place next to you, you suddenly could care less about your current conversation, but you realize that for reasons of social politeness you can’t just end the conversation that you are in.  So you begin to try to listen to what is being said in that conversation, while trying to listen and still be engaged in the conversation you are having.  I think it is safe to say that most of you have tried to do this at some point and would agree with me that it is very hard to do successfully and shouldn’t be done for reasons of social politeness.

I used that example to try to help us grasp how incredible it is that at any given moment God hears, understands, and responds to millions of prayers at the same time.  The fact that God is omniscient or all-knowing is only one example of the many extraordinary attributes of God that are at play when we talk about prayer.

In this devotional, we’re going to be looking at 1 Kings 17:22.  Before we talk about this verse, I want to briefly explain the context of this verse.  During a drought that lasted three and a half years, God told Elijah to go and live with a widow and her son.  When Elijah met the widow, he asked her to go and bake some bread for him.  The widow was hesitant to do as Elijah asked because she only had enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for her and her son.  Elijah asked her to cook for him first and told her that she would not run out of flour or oil until the drought was over.  She did what he asked, and God caused the flour and oil not to run out.  After Elijah had lived and eaten with the widow and her son many days, the son became ill and died.  The widow was upset and confronted Elijah about why her son died.  Elijah then took her dead son and prayed that God would raise him from the dead.  Then we read about what happens next in 1 Kings 17:22 which says: “The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.”

While many sermons could be preached on the significance of the fact that a holy God listens to the prayers of sinners, the section of verse 22 that I want us to focus on tonight is “and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.”

The one thing that I want us to think about is that God Answers Every Prayer of a Christian.

Prayer is powerful and essential in the Christian life.  As we begin our meditation on God’s response to our prayers let’s take a minute to consider some of the many examples from throughout the Bible God’s answer to prayers.

Exodus 32:7-14 – During the Exodus at Mount Sinai, Moses prayed that God would not destroy the people of Israel after they made and worshipped a golden calf.  God answered Moses’ prayer by not destroying the idolatrous people of Israel.

Joshua 10:12-14 – As Joshua is leading the Israelites into the promised land, God answered Joshua’s prayer for the sun to stand still so that the people of Israel and of Gibeon could finish defeating the various kings who had gathered their forces in an attempt to destroy Gibeon.

1 Kings 17-18 – After Israel was divided into two kingdoms, God answered Elijah’s prayers for there to be a drought lasting three and a half years and in our verse tonight for life to return to the widow’s son who had died.

Isaiah 38:1-6 – Hezekiah king of Judah prayed that the Lord heal him from his sickness and spare his life.  God heard and granted Hezekiah’s request by extending his life 15 years.

John 11:38-44 – God answered Jesus’ prayer for Lazarus to be raised from the dead after being in the tomb four days

Luke 22:39-44 – When Jesus prayed to God in the Garden of Gethsemane asking God to let the cup of his wrath be removed from him if there were any other way that he could accomplish the redemption of his elect, God answers his prayer by continuing with his ordained plan for Jesus to be crucified.

Acts 12:1-16 – The church earnestly prayed for Peter to be released from prison.  While they were still praying, God miraculously released Peter, and Peter came and knocked on the door of the place where they were praying.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Paul prays three times for the Lord to remove the thorn from his flesh, and God answered his prayer by not removing it.

We see in each of those examples that God, in his sovereignty, answered all of the prayers.  In several of these examples, God responded to the prayers by doing exactly what the prayer asked.  But you will notice that in two of the examples God didn’t give them what they asked in the same way.  When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, God did not remove the cup of wrath and Jesus was still crucified.  And when Paul asked for God to remove what he describes as a thorn in his flesh God didn’t remove it.

Does this mean that God didn’t answer their prayers or that they weren’t righteous men?  No!  In both examples, you can see that what Jesus and Paul wanted more than anything else is what would glorify God the most even if that meant that they would suffer.  Jesus said, “not my will but your will be done” and humbly and willingly submitted to his Father’s will.  I think it will be helpful for us to read what Paul said about God answering his prayer by allowing the thorn to continue to afflict Paul.

There is no need to turn there, but in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul says:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:7-10 ESV)

We don’t know what Paul’s ailment was, but that is not what’s important.  What’s important is that Paul knew that God’s decision to not remove the thorn from his flesh was for Paul’s benefit.  God afflicted Paul in order to help keep him from falling into the sin of conceit.  Have you ever considered that God might not give you what you request of him in order to keep you from sin?  This was the case for Paul, and he embraced God’s decision knowing that the humility and reliance on God it would force him to have would make him a more effective minister of the Gospel and would bring God glory.  When God answers our prayers with a “No” or a “Not Yet,” we must seek to do as Jesus and Paul did and trust that God, in his sovereignty, is working out his good plan that will bring him the most glory.

However, God does often answer our prayers with a “YES” by doing what we request.  For example, in 1 Kings 17:22 we read that Elijah prayed that God would raise the widow’s son from the dead, and he answered his prayer quickly by doing just what he asked.  I’m sure many of you can think of times when you saw God answer a prayer just as you asked him to.  I would encourage each of you to set aside some time this week to write down some of the specific prayers that God has answered in your life.  As you think of these things, I would encourage you to take time to thank the Lord and praise him for the various ways he has answered your prayers.

In 1 Kings 17:22, God answered the prayer of Elijah and raised the widow’s son from the dead, and we can praise him for that answered prayer of old.  But, as Christians, we must be ever mindful that God answered the prayers of all the men and women of God in the Old Testament who prayed for the Messiah to come.  The Messiah, Jesus Christ, has come and was crucified on the cross in our place.  But, Jesus did not stay dead!  Just as God raised the widow’s son from the dead, he raised his own son from the dead conquering sin and death.  Because Jesus is alive everyone who repents of their sin and puts their faith in Jesus Christ will no longer be dead in their sins and trespasses, but will be given eternal life.  As we await the return of Christ, may we be a people who pray and who praise God for his answers to our prayers

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