Sunday, May 6, 2012

Abiding and Answered Prayer

At church this morning, the theme was prayer.  The pastor was commenting on John 15:7, which states (in the KJV): "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."

My pastor was saying what I've heard a lot of Christians say: that John 15:7 does not mean that God gives us everything we ask for, but rather that abiding in Christ influences us to desire and to ask for the right things, and God grants us those things. 

But this sort of spiel does not resonate with me, for it strikes me as an escape clause: If you did not get what you want, that's due to you wanting the wrong things because you don't sufficiently abide in Christ.  (My pastor did not say that, but I feel that conditioning answered prayer on abiding in Christ can eventually go in that direction.)  Consequently, if, say, you're praying for a loved-one to recover from an illness, and the loved-one dies, are you supposed to blame yourself for the loved-one's death, since God may not have answered your prayer due to your poor spiritual condition?  I hope God's not like that!

Moreover, what exactly is the "right thing" to pray for?  I think that it's appropriate to pray for a job or for healing, for oneself or others.  A person who abides in Christ can do this, as can one with a weak spiritual condition.  I think that a person who abides in Christ would actually be encouraged by her faith to do so, since Christianity teaches compassion for others.  So why would God choose not to grant such a petition?  In my opinion, it can't be because such requests do not flow from Christ-like desires, for they do.

One may say that God knows best.  Fine.  But, if God knows best and will do what he wants anyway, why does Jesus go out of his way to tell us that God will answer our requests?  Why should we even make requests, when God will do what he wants?

Do I think that God answers the prayers of people who are especially righteous?  I've thought about this issue a couple of times lately.  First, I was watching the episode of Highway to Heaven in which Dick Van Dyke plays a hobo named Wally who loves people and gives to them.  Because of Wally's continuous concern for others, God considers him to be a saint, and God answers Wally's prayer to heal a sick boy.  Second, I saw a movie (for the second time) entitled The Third Miracle, which is about a debate in the Catholic church about whether or not to declare a woman to be a saint.  Part of sainthood is being so close to God that God hears your prayers for others and answers them.  That's presumably why there are many Catholics who ask saints to intercede for them.

I'd like to think that God honors a person who goes the extra mile in showing concern for other people.  Do I think that God hears her prayers over those of others?  Part of me hopes not.  I know I'm not perfect, but I would hope that God loves me and listens to my prayers, plus I would not want to carry around a load of guilt if my prayers were to go ungranted and bad things were to happen.

I liked something that my pastor said in the sermon: He told about a little boy who asked if it's all right to talk to God, even if he doesn't want God to do something for him.  The answer was absolutely!  That's one reason I pray: for the company.

3 comments:

  1. good thoughts, thanks

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  2. ohn MacArthur is trully inspired by the Holy Spirit when covers the entire book of John. Took him two and a half years of his weekly sermons work his way through he book of John.

    I have Asperger's Sydrome and these sermons came a time when I was finally ready to give up doing things my way. First, condition one you have to be a true believer (Christian) "and that you know the Lord Jesus Christ and you have received Him as your savior by faith you've opened your heart and invited Christ to come in, take over your life to rule your life to be the Lord of your life. You've confessed your sin you've acknowledged that on your own you can't make it and you've received the Lord Jesus Christ".

    I used a quote from John because people have some unique views on what it is to be a Christian. Second, when a man is a Christian "and when that man studies the New Testament, studies the Old Testament primarily the New Testament, learning the truths Christ has revealed and continues to reveal through the writers of the New Testament, when those become the controlling things in his life then he meets condition two and then he can ask what he will and God responds. Because under condition two he's fully controlled by Christ's words".

    God will give a Christian wisdom and knowledge if they have an earnet desire for the truth and they pray for the Lord to Give them wisdom and knowledge.

    Link to Grace to You’s Abiding in Christ bible study:

    http://www.gty.org/resources/study-guides/40-5132/abiding-in-christ

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