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. Does anyone seriously think that this bloodied saint never prayed for protection? The point, however, is that no one should be shocked that when James was searching for an example of the power of prayer (James 5:16-18), and Hebrews 11 wanted to stress the power of faith, both cited the Old Testament. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. Such suffering certainly includes persecution (“Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake”) but it is wider than that. . “Or who has first given to him,and it will be repaid to him again?”. (1 Kings 18:42-45), What if Elijah had given up after the sixth time; convinced that God had obviously said “No”? David pleaded desperately for the life of his baby. . But when they view suffering in its true light they will discover that it is a gift of God’s grace . In contrast, faith that our perfect Lord will respond to our request in the perfect way, is never misdirected. Finally, in response to still more pleas, he added that granting her request was not right, plus he referred to her as a dog – an unclean animal. The elders of his house arose beside him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, and he didn’t eat bread with them. Consider Paul’s agonizingly long list of incarcerations, torture, stonings, and so on (2 Corinthians 11:24-29). I confess that for most of my life such a bare-boned translation led me to misinterpret this as implying being reluctantly given something unpleasant, rather than realize the astonishingly true meaning: for a Christian to suffer is to be generously honored with a precious gift. . Jonah 3:4-5, 10 Jonah . Another example is Paul’s repeated request for release from his so-called “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). For those whose heart isn’t crushed by personal tragedy or aren’t desperate for satisfactory answers to perplexing questions, I have a highly shortened version. . And what about the imprisonments that kept Paul from preaching to the lost and from strengthening Christians in their fragile spiritual infancy? Having this confidence, I know that I will remain, yes, and remain with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, Philippians 1:21-25 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . The Lord said to me, “Let this satisfy you. Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses. The last one is the most difficult. Micah 3:8), certain leaders (e.g. . Moreover, Scripture specifically states there are prayer requests that would not be granted even if Noah, Moses, Samuel, Job, Jeremiah and Daniel selflessly pleaded for them. While “in the Spirit” (Revelation 1:10) he heard the Risen Lord tell Christians such things as: Revelation 2:9-10 I know your works, oppression, and your poverty . In praying for the baby, however, I honor him for three things: 1. He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” . for he is gracious and merciful, When this special man of God stood before the burning bush, he pleaded with God, “Oh, Lord, please send someone else.” The Lord not only refused, his “anger burned against Moses” for even asking (Exodus 4:13-14). . . . . If someone so close to Jesus’ heart and so receptive to divine revelation could get things so horribly wrong, do you really think any of us are incapable of ever asking God for things he should not grant? Our Lord’s eagerness for an intercessor to ‘change God’s mind’ is displayed here: Ezekiel 22:30 I sought for a man among them, who should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. .) . . If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make myself known to him in a vision. It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I found particularly moving these quotes for Bible commentaries following on this passage: The revered New Testament scholar J. There’s the man who, being paralyzed, had no way of getting to Jesus. . “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us,” pleaded Philip. Perhaps the Bible’s greatest example of a battle of wills ending in the Lord seeming to change his mind is the Canaanite woman. . 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord . But truth puts muscle on our faith. The Purpose of God In Unanswered Prayer John 11: 1-45 When it comes to God’s answering our prayers, it often seems that if we do not hear the answer we want to hear, we conclude that it … Even after Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles asked for something as seemingly harmless as revelation and they were denied: Acts 1:6-7 “Lord, are you now restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It isn’t for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority. . . On and on we could go, citing people who got their miracle because they refused to be deterred by oppressive circumstances or Jesus’ peculiar instructions (e.g. . Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake. Seek humility. . Did Paul sulk or get angry or resentful? . There are numerous examples of prayers that have been answered in Scripture. there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me . Bible Versions Used Examples Of Unanswered Prayers In The Bible Cancer continued to unanswered in your family woman was coming I know, I know. Though not always associated with unanswered prayer, the principle of unavoidable judgment achieving good extends beyond Old Testament incidents. . My longing is to stick solely to the Bible in this page but for those writhing in pain and bewilderment, permit me to stray into sheer logic for a moment. (Slightly Modified) God’s Word provides abundant proof that no matter how godly and wise someone might normally be, no one is immune from a rare slip-up. . They were among several respected Bible characters mentioned in this webpage, such as Moses, Philip and Peter whose request was so far off that it was not only denied but they were rebuked for even thinking it was acceptable to ask for such a thing. As much as finite, fallible beings might crave a fantasy world in which we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have figured out the one “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20) it is not spiritual reality. Surely none of Paul’s shipwrecks were due to anyone opposing the Gospel, and at least one, perhaps all, was the result of a storm. Regretfully, the result will shock the many of us who are unaware that their ‘faith’ has, in part, been founded on misinterpretation of God’s precious Word. I am well aware that from early in his calling the Lord showed Paul what he would suffer (Acts 9:16). We are beginning to see that the Bible regards it as a privilege for the righteous to suffer. . He publically praised her, and hailed her as a role model. God answers prayers in different ways, and not always does He answers us in the way we expect. In situations where God sees the need to exercise his astonishing patience by delaying judgment on sinners who will be affected by that decision, “God’s will” is more like a necessary compromise than something that thrills him. Lord, take, I beg you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live” (Jonah 4:3, 8-9). . Or who has been his counselor?” In effect, the Lord was saying, “Amos, asking me to relent worked twice, but there’s no point in asking anymore.”. I feel too deeply for the many of us for whom unanswered prayer costs horrifically; bringing us to the brink of despair and fueling deep resentment. We must either learn to tolerate mystery, or swap the real God from an imaginary one. . If I cause evil animals to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it is made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the animals; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord, they should deliver neither sons nor daughters . If you think I have chosen an extreme example; think again. Have I found every instance? Moses had such a favored position with God that the Lord states in his Word: Exodus 33:11 The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. . Certain pagan philosophers, sadly deprived of revelation about God’s love, have even feared prayer. Numbers 14:11-20 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? Many also of those who had believed came, confessing, and declaring their deeds. Unanswered prayer is such an important topic and so easily confused by fuzzy thinking or misinterpretation of the Bible, that I have devoted several webpages to the topic; each approaching the subject from a different angle. Nothing screams this more emphatically than this incident carefully persevered in God’s Word: Amos 7:1-9 Thus the Lord God showed me: and behold, he formed locusts . Forgiveness – Sometimes it’s hard to find the words (or the desire) to forgive those who offend us. Three times John spoke of “the prayers of saints” (Revelation 5:8; 8:3, 8:4) and yet he wrote: Revelation 13:6-7 He opened his mouth for blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name . . “Now hear my words. . The Lord relented concerning this. God always with out exception answers our prayers in one of three ways: yes, no, or wait! . The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least. The only thing that could crumble is our interpretation of those promises. A. Kennedy wrote, “The prospect of suffering was apt to terrify them. If I cause evil animals to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it is made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the animals; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord, they should deliver neither sons nor daughters . that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.” . Since, however, not just favorite verses, but “Every Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) it is foolhardy to disregard any part of God’s Word. They said, “He is dead.” It was such a godly idea (1 Kings 8:17) that even the prophet Nathan gave his initial approval (2 Samuel 7:2-3). When I fall, I will arise. . ... And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers … . On the seventh day, the child died. Whilst, of course, there is nothing erratic about him, if he never responds to your prayers in a way you find unfathomable, I question the breadth of your experience. He is faithful in all my house. We have found biblical examples of never-answered prayers in the lives of so many people. Perhaps hoping to further pressure Jesus, their mother even added her voice to the request (Matthew 20:20-21). Mark Batterson shares about unanswered prayer and how God lead's the way to His best for us. Again, the servant, who by now was probably tiring and losing patience, climbed to the best vantage point and returned with the same devastating news. . If so, it screams a less than perfect understanding of the Supreme One’s ways. The problem with such thinking is that all the people who have seriously prayed for death and ended up grateful they did not die, were also utterly convinced at the time that what they were praying for was best. On the contrary, the above quote ends, “Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me.” This was the response of a true man of God; a faith giant who could say, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV). King James Version Nevertheless, “the secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us,” This obligates each of us to obey God’s directive to keep reading, studying and pondering the Word of God, praying “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of your law,” and, to paraphrase two Scriptures, grow in the knowledge of our Lord; repeating the Apostle Paul’s prayer that God grant us “a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Scriptures for this paragraph). . Please let me go over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that fine mountain, and Lebanon.” But the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and didn’t listen to me. rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. . . The most popular prayer verse to get misused is Matthew 21:18-22 18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. . The Lord also said that the prayers of Moses and Samuel would likewise go unheeded: Jeremiah 15:1  . The principle is expressed here: 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 Now all these things happened to them by way of example, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. God warns and warns and delays and delays but if people refuse to repent, judgment must eventually come. King David yearned to build the temple (2 Chronicles 6:7). “I have heard your prayer. What finally altered me to the correct interpretation is discovering that Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines the word as meaning, “to do something pleasant or agreeable (to one), to do a favor to”. Again nothing happened. 3. Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind would not be toward this people . The following list of Bible prayers is from the Dake Annotated Reference Bible, King James Version (Used by Permission – Dake Publishing). . . Luke 14:26-27 If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple. . Rather than downplaying the incident – lest others be emboldened to act like her in having the audacity to refuse to take no for an answer – he highlighted it, thus ensuring it was recorded in the Gospels for all subsequent generations. Put another way: God has dignified us with the ability to be morally accountable, and anyone placed in some sort of divinely induced stupor is not morally praiseworthy but a mindless automaton – something no longer in the image of God but less than human. Six times he had prayed. Paul was a great man of Prayer, he prayed three times for the removal of that "thorn in the flesh." Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. Christ’s suffering was God’s will, solely because we sinners desperately needed him to endure it. Likewise, something that is forced or conned is not real love. Somehow, he cajoled his long-suffering friends to push through people on the outside to climb the roof, hoist him up, break through the roof – the owner must have been delighted – and lower him into the room crammed with people. . Many chapters later he lamented in his agonized prayer, “I cry to you, and you do not answer me” (Job 30:20). In the Four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—there … This passionate request was not merely refused but was met with a stinging rebuke (Matthew 16:22-23). . . . for the Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest. Romans 11:33-5 Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! But he answered her not a word. Who knows whether the Lord will not be gracious to me, that the child may live? “He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground” (2 Samuel 12:16). Try imagining living in a world where people who preferred death were divinely granted their wish. For what god is there in heaven or in earth that can do works like yours, and mighty acts like yours? . . . . . His faith at that moment must have been so astonishingly high as to soar all the way to heaven. . . . . . . “This also shall not be,” says the Lord God. “It shall not be,” says the Lord. On the seventh day, the child died. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord . If I cause evil animals to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it is made desolate, so that no man may pass through because of the animals; though these three men were in it, as I live, says the Lord, they should deliver neither sons nor daughters . . . Or who has been his counselor?” On the other extreme, evil is so obvious early on, that one can mistakenly suppose the good Lord is nowhere to be found. . “This also shall not be,” says the Lord God. Nevertheless, there are a vast number of seemingly similar instances when requests were granted. Their request was denied. Consider Elijah on Mount Carmel straight after his stupendous victory over all of the prophets of Baal. The elders of his house arose beside him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, and he didn’t eat bread with them. (Slightly Modified) For instance, an indirect biblical indicator that Spirit-filled Christians can expect some of their prayers to be unanswered is found by delving into New Testament teaching about persecution and trials, such as: 2 Timothy 3:12  . The truth is your prayers never go unanswered. . Thus he showed me and behold, the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. . and turn to the Lord, your God; The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from their greatest even to their least. Intercession is never about fighting a God who is reluctant to bless, but about the Lord giving us priceless opportunities to grow in becoming more like him. There is not a hint in the account that there had been the slightest delay when Elijah had called down fire. Yet again Elijah prayed. the God of Israel, says to you, Baruch: You said, Woe is me now! God gives us several great promises about prayer in the Bible, but He also shows us examples of faithful individuals whose prayers went unanswered. They, too, may “suffer in Christ’s place” . Joel 2:13-14 Tear your heart, and not your garments, . Then, because she persisted, he gave her his important reason: to do as she requested would be contrary to his divine calling. It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. The Philippians, on the other hand, can also share in this privilege. In fact, carefully read what flowed from his pen: 1 Timothy 2:1-2 I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. Proverbs 28:9 If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, … “I want to join him in his sufferings” (New International Reader’s Version). and leave a blessing behind him . For instance, if I am concerned about someone, I often think something would most help them, and so pray for it, but my amazing Lord sometimes thrills and astonishes me by ignoring what to me seems the only course of action, and responds to my wishes by blessing the person by what, in the long term, turns out to be a far more effective way. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. The Lord said to me, “Let this satisfy you. . (Emphasis mine.) (Slightly Modified) The details would scuttle the mistaken notion that God mindlessly answers every sincere prayer, no matter how misguided. . Instead of accepting that this case was obviously too hard, he sought out the busy Jesus. Sidenote: I worry that starting here will seem too vague for readers for whom prayer is more an academic curiosity than a devastatingly personal issue that cuts them to the core. All the disciples joined forces in asking him to send the Canaanite woman away but their Lord ended up doing the exact opposite (Matthew 15:23, 28). It would be fraudulent, and treating God’s holy Word with disdain, to bury or dismiss one set of biblical examples of God’s response to prayer, whilst showcasing another set we find more encouraging or intelligible. Besides longing to serve a God who is loving, patient and merciful, who would want to be in a church where if you happened to annoy someone, he/she could literally incinerate you with a single prayer? . 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