The more I pray and the more I see how God answers, the more I am mystified by this thing called prayer. How does God interact with His people and why does He answer the way He does? A new compilation book published by Guideposts gives some insights into how God answers prayer.
What is the purpose of prayer anyway?
When God answers prayer, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s exciting. We feel like we’ve stepped one foot into the spiritual realm as we’ve witnessed something happen that should have been able to happen. We feel closer to God because we are convinced He has directly heard us and responded to our request.
Yet sometimes God doesn’t say yes or He seems to take a very long time to answer. What happened? Why was my direct line to God severed?
Some people think God should say yes every time we ask something of Him. Not only should He say yes but He should respond instantly. Think about that though. If that’s the way prayer should work, that would turn God into a genie inside Aladdin’s lamp and put us in charge rather than God. An infinitely powerful God in the hands of an infinitely authoritative human. Downright scary.
So let’s flip it around. God is more powerful, wise, and in control of the world than we are. Therefore, God knows what is best for us, better than we do. I, in my human weakness will not always pray with wisdom and, if I don’t ask wisely, God would be smart if He didn’t say yes to my foolish request.
Back to the basic question: What is the purpose of prayer?
More important, why does God invite me to ask for His help?
Prayer gives us a glimpse of how God works and how He thinks. Prayer gives us the opportunity to be in partnership with God, to be included in His work, and to get a front row seat to view the spiritual side of the universe. It allows us a chance to show our trust in God’s unlimited resources and His love and care for us.
The topic of prayer doesn’t have to be complicated. But it’s not as straightforward as pushing a button on a vending machine and getting the candy bar we want. Prayer is a conversation with the Lord of the Universe, a discussion of Kingdom matters. God’s answers to our prayers give clues and information about His nature, motivations, and perspective. We learn what is important to God by the way He answers our prayers.
As we grow in our understanding of who God is, we learn to care about the things important to Him. We begin to structure our prayers in ways that parallel what He wants. And when He does answer, He does it in a way that there’s no doubt it came from Him. He splashes displays of His glory so all who watch will know that this intervention came from Him and only Him.
The new book, Divine Interventions, compiled by James Scott Bell, edited by Jeanette Gardner Littleton, and published by Guideposts gives some great peeks into how God intervenes in our lives in response to our prayers. This delightful volume is more than a bunch of stories of how God said yes to prayer requests. The stories, written by over 50 different people, are coupled with short chapters that give basic principles about prayer:
- How to pray,
- What to pray for
- How God answers
- How God gives us wisdom to make right choices
Stories shares how God showed His care and concern about everything from physical health to financial woes, sick kitties and lonely elderly parents, decades of mental illness to a diagnosis of hemophilia.
One thread runs through all those stories. God has the power to creatively and unexpectedly provide our needs. He cares about everything from college tuition payments to Kraft macaroni and cheese boxed dinners.
A Mac and Cheese Miracle
That last reference about macaroni and cheese dinners? That’s my story, “A Mac and Cheese Miracle,” that you’ll find on page 26. It’s the story of how my four-year-old daughter prayed a big prayer and God answered in a big way.
But, you know, even if my story wasn’t included In Divine Interventions, I’d recommend this book. I love the teaching articles sprinkled among the personal experience stories that discuss just how God intervenes in the affairs and lives of His people and how we can be more specific in our prayer requests. God wants interaction with His people. He is alive and at work in our world. He longs to assure us of His presence, power, and love and He does that by answering our prayers for healing, deliverance, comfort, and provision.
You have a chance this week to win a free copy of Divine Interventions.
Share with me in an email your favorite variation of what you like to add to boxed macaroni and cheese dinners.
- Canned peas?
- Extra cheese?
You name it. I’d love to hear all the difference touches people do to dress up this long standing easy meal or side dish. And if you’re curious about how else you can turn this standard side dish into a one dish meal, I’m going to share all the ideas that come to me on my next Recipes blog post. It will be like a “50 Ways to Dress Up Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.”
When you send me your Mac and Cheese idea, I’ll add your name to our drawing for a free copy of the book Divine Interventions. The drawing will be held on August 7, 2020, and I’ll announce the winner to my email subscribers and in the Recipes blog post where I share all those good ideas I’ve received of different ways to vary mac and cheese.
If you don’t like boxed mac and cheese dinners or you aren’t a pasta person, email me anyway and ask to be part of the drawing.
In the meantime, be bold.
God loves you so much. He wants to talk with you. He wants to hear about the things that bug you, concern you, cause you stress, and give you joy. Try it. Just start talking to him. Tell Him what matters to you and ask Him to show you what and who matters to Him. He wants you to become better at talking to Him and with Him. And there’s no better way to learn and grow than by practice!
So go ahead. Pray impossible prayers. Ask for what seem to you to be small, insignificant prayers. Pray for those you love. Ask God to show Himself to you so you can learn how He thinks and what He considers important.
And if you still struggle with this thing called prayer, consider getting a copy of the book, Divine Interventions. It will give you dozens of examples of things we can pray for and an equal number of ways God responds.I think you’ll be inspired as I have been by the goodness and power of God.