If we are praying for sick people, for problems to be eliminated in our lives, for something to change to the way we like it, for our kids to follow our suggestions after they leave home, we can often be disappointed in the responses to our prayers. God doesn’t think like we do or answer our prayers to make us feel better. He is always assessing the situations we lift up to Him with an eye to what we need to hear, to what the person(s) we’re praying for needs in their lives according to His plan for us, for them. We have to remember that God does not live in the world; He views everything from His perspective in the heavens looking at us and those we are praying for. He has a plan for each of us that teaches each of us what we need to do next in order to achieve our destiny, to live the full potential of our lives, to achieve the purpose which He assigned us at our creation.
It’s not that He doesn’t love us, but more that He doesn’t respond to our requests as we make them. He will answer in His timing, with His purpose for the one prayed for in mind. And what does He expect of us? Our willing surrender to whatever His answer to our prayers is. We are not the creator of how our children are to live as adults in this world. We are not the definer of what our friends and relatives or we ourselves need now. So, don’t be disappointed and think that your prayers weren’t answered. Be surprised by the answer and try to figure out why God answered your prayers in a way other than what you requested. How He answers our prayers is just another way that God has of giving us what we need at any point in time, rather than what the world would want for the person prayed for.
Our lives here on earth are filled with challenges and pain, none of which we want, but, from a heavenly perspective, they are what will challenge us to take the next step in our journey with God towards the fulfillment of our creation. When these challenges come into our lives, when our prayers are not answered the way we want them to be, we are to figure our why this thing is now in our lives and what we are to learn from it. Our biggest challenges, when we are moved to accept them and to learn from them, will also lead us to our purpose in this life.
For me, growing up in a hell-fire-and-damnation church was the worst possible thing to endure. God to me, as I reached maturity, was a raven sitting on my shoulder ready to zap me for anything I did wrong. When I finally let God lead me where He wanted me to go, I was led to a whole new life that had nothing to do with that early church’s point of view. Amazingly, I was to be a spiritual director helping people with their devotion to God and then, to be a blogger and then an author who writes about how we live this life in Christ. In my rebellion, I wouldn’t have wanted to do any of that. But when I allowed God to guide me, that was where He led me—to what I find most fulfilling.
Think of an addict, who, in admitting to his addiction, can then help others to find their way out of addiction in AA. Or of a mother whose disabled daughter finally graduated from college in her thirties; the mother began to help other parents with disabled children. How do our greatest challenges become the place where we have the most to give? It is in stopping our objections to what is going on in our lives, in our surrender to the truth that is in our lives, that God can reveal how helpful we can be to others who suffer the same kind of problems.
That is the beauty of God’s calling to us. It not only involves our healing from the pain in our lives, but in helping others with similar problems. How divine is that? No matter what we have suffered, there is redemption awaiting us when we follow God’s leading. For He will heal in us whatever we turn over to Him. He will bring us to a state of giving from a state of pain. He will bring us to the fulfillment of all that we have gone through, just because He loves us and forgives us, so that we can bring that same fulfillment to others.
God sees our lives so much more clearly than we do, and, of course, He also sees in us the purpose He designed for us. His answers to our prayers always fit into His design for our lives, not into the worldly view of them that we have adopted. That is why His answers might seem delayed or not responsive. It’s not that He doesn’t care for us; it is that He doesn’t buy into our earth-based plans for ourselves and others. That is the truth about His answers to our prayers.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.
Questions to ponder over the week: How do I respond to God’s answers to my prayers? With anger? With embrace? Or _____? Am I liable to surrender to His answers or to fight them? What have I gleaned from His answers that have helped me along this journey in Christ?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who welcome, embrace God’s answers to our prayers. May we surrender to all that He gives us and asks of us.
See more blog posts and offerings at patsaidadams.com.
Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts every month. 3.14.22’s is entitled “Our Lives as We Follow Jesus.” Sign up to receive these as monthly emails at the website.