OPEN FOR BUSINESS BUT NO ANSWER? Last evening Millie and I decided we wanted to eat some Chinese food for dinner. There is a small Chinese take-out restaurant not far from our house so we decided to call in our order and then pick it up. Simple, right? Well that process only works if they answer their phone. After fifteen minutes of listening to busy signals we decided to have some Mexican food instead. What resulted was an instant answer to our phone call, easy pick-up, and delicious Mexican food. The Chinese restaurant menu has now been thrown into the garbage can and we are looking for a replacement Chinese establishment. In America today busy signals lose a lot of sales. This morning this got me to thinking about our relationship to God.
It does seem sometimes like our prayers receive a “busy signal”; it just seems there is no answer on the other end. Now I know God’s phone isn’t out of order. And I know that His line isn’t clogged with multiple calls from His people nor does he have satellite problems. I also know He doesn’t have staffing problems as there are millions or billions of angels ready to do His bidding if necessary. So why isn’t He answering when we call? I know that God does answer prayer when we call on Him. He did it for Abraham when Abraham prayed concerning Sodom in Genesis 18:16-33. And He did it for King Hezekiah when he prayed concerning his life in Isaiah 38. God also answered the prayers of the early church when they prayed for the Apostle Peter to get out of prison in Acts 12:1-19. So it is obvious God answers prayer for individuals and groups. But we could also give examples of times recorded in the Bible when it seems God does not answer the requests brought before Him. So is God’s prayer line open or not? Or should we expect an occasional busy signal? Those are good questions.
I do know that the Bible says this, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV). Someone has said that God has three answers to prayer, “Yes, No, and wait a while.” I think that is a little simplistic. Since one day we give account of every word that we speak and God asks us to pray then we know God is listening to our prayers. We just don’t know for certain why God “seems” to answer what we pray for sometimes and not others. And why God answers our prayers before we even pray them is another mystery. Our attitude should be that of Jesus, “Not my will but God’s will be done.” Someone has said, “Prayer is not about results. It’s about relationship. God wants us to interact with Him.” I think God wants to know that we trust Him enough to communicate our personal needs and desires to Him and leave our answers from Him to His wisdom as He works out His perfect will for us in this life and the life to come. Prayer is a mystery much like why that Chinese restaurant didn’t answer its phone. I don’t have a total answer to either. And this FB Post isn’t a treatise on prayer. Now it is time to pray and peace is assured on the basis of God’s Word whether I understand everything about prayer or not.