Friday, 3 June 2016

The Thing About Prayer

The thing about prayer is, God won't violate freewill.

So when we're asking for something which doesn't involve another person's will, very often we can receive it right away, when God wills.

(Things like: salvation; receiving the Holy Spirit; and healing for oneself.)

In 36 years as a Christian, I can't think of a single time when I've asked for something for myself and not received!

Very often I received right away - but sometimes there were slight delays (like when receiving finances, or specific objects). The delays were partly because other people were involved.

Other times a delay was because there was an appropriate time - and I already knew that when I was asking. (Like a teenager desiring ministry responsibilities which would only be appropriate later in adult life.)

But there are some things which we might or might not be able to make happen at all, through prayer - depending.

(Things like: praying about results in elections, or government policy; praying that an ex-wife will agree with the courts to allow her ex-husband to see the children; or praying for another person's salvation or healing.)

Those things involve another person's will - not just our desire, and God won't necessarily override theirs. He'll bring to bear every good influence He will upon them, in answer to our prayer - but God might not make them actually do it right away while they're still refusing to.

It may be different while a person is a minor under your guardianship: then it's your responsibility to use your faith on their behalf. (For example, praying for your child's healing. But you can't get saved on behalf of another adult, for example.)

It's a bit like: you've got authority to put your washing-machine wherever you want in your own house; and a parent can be somewhat directly involved in how his child's bedroom is arranged - but no-one's got authority to barge into your house and start rearranging your furniture the way he wants, if you don't want him to - even if his home-decorating ideas are good.

He can advise you. He can arrive at your door with a delivery. But you've got to open the door. You'd have to participate willingly. Or the person doesn't have authority to do more than that!

Same with prayer.

At the Second Coming God will intervene in history and override everything. So, no prayer will go completely unanswered. But God is delaying that day, giving people more chance to repent. In the meantime therefore, we sometimes have to put up with others' unwillingness.

  • Some things we can receive right away; 
  • other things we can receive with some delay; 
  • other things we mightn't be able to pull-off with prayer at all, depending on the other person's will.

So we can learn to word our prayers in a way that reflects those different principles and categories. I encourage people to try to start doing that.

Different categories call for different kinds of prayer:

We can pray the prayer of consecration, about ourself;

We can pray the prayer of faith for things which involve ourself and God, and also for things which others are in agreement with us about and are believing with us for;

We can pray the prayer of petition and intercession for others, even for unbelievers.

Different kinds of prayer are a different ballgame, and different rules-of-play apply. 

We only know in part though. And there may be other principles which I haven't mentioned in this Post - principles which I wonder whether they can effect even what a person can achieve through his own prayer of faith, even through no fault of his own at all. I've got some thoughts along that line too. But if so, that's for another Post.

When we don't know, we can just pour out our sigh to the Lord anyway - and trust Him to work it all out in His will, way and time. Very often you'll find He does it!

But you can be sure: The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

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