This question came up in a discussion group I joined “Christian Bloggers Spreading The Word so I thought I’d comment here also because maybe more can benefit from it.
This is not a study – this is just my experience as I’ve walked with the Lord.
I have found that there’s no formula in order to get God to act. There’s no ‘magical’ words to say, it doesn’t matter which ministry I support, no amount of good deeds will work, and it doesn’t matter how much I tithe. Before I get into this we must realize that we are not here for US – but for Him. We were created for Him, to honor, obey, and give Him glory.
Let’s look at material things we might pray for….financial needs, job, food, house, healing etc. These things are very important, and some are essential to survival and there’s nothing wrong with praying for these things. The Bible says He knows what we need before we ask. We should not get discouraged if we don’t ‘hear’ anything because this is our opportunity to live by faith. Moses went 40 years without hearing a word from God yet he was a man of faith. God can prosper us if He wants to and the key is if HE WANTS TO. Our petitions are merely suggestions.
Let’s just suppose that you lost everything, would you think that God is trying to punish you? Or that since He is a loving God that He would not do this to you? Is this notion unthinkable? Why do we assume blessings are only blessings when things go OUR way? When only good things happen? Do we think following Christ means to only obey and handle inconveniences with grace?
Here’s a wacky notion….
Do we even think about the joy it is to suffer as Christ did? Are you thinking persecution or hanging on a cross? It’s more than that. To suffer as Christ did is to follow in His footsteps in every way. Jesus had nowhere to lay His head and yet we pray for houses. Jesus and the apostles went hungry many times and yet we pray for food. They were poor and had no money yet we pray for financial gain. Why do we see these things as bad things? To follow and suffer for Christ is an honor and I think the modern churches no longer preach this. They see Christ’s blessings as fulfilling things WE want but that is not so. When we lose these things, it is a wonderful opportunity to rely solely on Him – to cling to Him, to depend on Him for everything. When we are reduced to nothing is when we should give Him the greatest praise because He has found us worthy to suffer as He did.
That said, He may not take these things away but we must be WILLING to part with them because again, it is not about US but Jesus. These things have no eternal value and will pass away along with the world and so we must be willing to part with them. Again, we are here for Him, not ourselves.
And since we were created for Him, and are to walk as Christ walked…then what prayers will He always answer without fail? Prayers of a spiritual nature ie. spiritual fruits. Love, joy, humility, peace, patience, kindness understanding etc. And gifts, teaching, preaching, discernment of spirits, widsom etc. These ALL have eternal value and will glorify His Name! These things He will not deny us – these are the types of prayers that will always be answered if your heart is right and pure with no wrong motives.These fruits will never pass away because they are the very nature of God and so these are the things we should really be seeking.
If we have the basics, food, money, clothing etc. consider it a tremendous blessing for that. But be willing to part with it and STILL follow Jesus and give Him thanks for these things. He may deprive us of these things in order to draw us closer to Him or He may choose not to. The point is that it is not a bad thing if He chooses not to provide these things for us. Our joy is in Him alone. If we are willing to give up our very lives for Him, then these things should have little meaning to us. I’m not saying they’re not important because we do have families, but that is up to God if He will provide – our focus should be on the spiritual things of God – that which has eternal value.