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What The Bible Teaches About Prayer

by Bob Russell

In last week’s blog, I related how it seemed like Covid was overwhelming our family. So many of you responded that you were praying for us. Thank you! As of this writing, my son Rusty and his wife Kellie are still weak but feeling much better. Rusty was able to preach at his church in Port Charlotte, Florida, this weekend. My 10-day old great-granddaughter is healthy and doing well. We are very grateful. However, my grandson, Charlie, is still in Intensive Care in a Nashville hospital battling pneumonia and Covid lung. He’s been in isolation for ten days and has not yet seen his new daughter. He’s a very sick young man, and we covet your continued prayers on his behalf.

     I believe God answers prayer.  Jesus promised,  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).  We’ve experienced safe travels, paid bills, healthy babies, physical recovery, restored relationships, blessed decisions. Prayer is more than just preparing our hearts for what God has predetermined. Prayer changes things. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). Indeed, God answers prayer.

     I believe God answers prayer dramatically.  The Scriptures demonstrate that. King Hezekiah was healed of terminal illness and granted 15 additional years. Blind Bartimaeus was given sight instantly. Simon Peter was miraculously delivered from prison. We’ve witnessed dramatic answers to prayer in our day also. 

     The tumor disappeared! The seizures immediately stopped! The man physicians gave six months to live, lived for thirty (30) more years! The marriage that seemed irreparably broken was restored! The financial goal experts said was impossible was exceeded! “For with God, nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37 KJV).

     I believe God answers prayer dramatically but not always.  God sometimes intervenes miraculously and heals the sick, parts the sea, or raises the dead. But not often. God more frequently heals naturally. He designed the human body with an awesome immune system, and sometimes prayer is answered through a prolonged, natural recovery. God sometimes heals medicinally. The Lord enabled keen minds who discovered Penicillin, Tylenol, Remdesivir, and a host of other effective medications. The Lord created brilliant physicians who learned to perform appendectomies, heart surgeries, and lung transplants.  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good…!” (Psalm 107:1). 

     I believe there is a special power in unified prayer.  Jesus promised, “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). When the entire city of Nineveh repented of their sins and pleaded for the Lord’s forgiveness, God spared the city that Jonah prophesied would be destroyed in 40forty days. In the wake of the beheading of James, the Jerusalem church gathered in fervent prayer that the incarcerated Simon Peter’s life would be spared. That very night Peter was miraculously escorted out of prison by an angel. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).

      I believe when prayers aren’t answered affirmatively, God is still good and worthy of our trust.   Although it pains me to acknowledge it, there are times in Scripture when God has said “no” to sincere prayer requests. Rather than heal miraculously, naturally, or medicinally, God chose to heal eternally. For instance, David prayed for his infant to live, yet the baby died. Likewise, Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed, yet it wasn’t. Even Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 26:39).  Yet He had to drink its dregs. Only in heaven does God promise to “wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4). 

       If God answered every prayer exactly as we requested, we would be in charge of the universe, and that would be a disaster. No one would ever die and go to heaven. Instead, we would live forever in a sinful, chaotic, violent world that’s rapidly getting worse. That’s why we must pray as Jesus prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  

       I am praying as earnestly as I can that God will heal my grandson. Would you please join me in that prayer? However, if God chooses not to, let us still trust Him. We will hurt, grieve, weep, churn, and maybe even be angry, but let’s pledge with Job, “Though He slay me, I will still trust Him.”  May we say with the Apostle Paul, “His grace is sufficient for me.”  And may we cry out with Jesus, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Will you join me in prayer?

     “Lord, I have been extremely blessed my entire life. My life has not been free from pain, but I have not suffered to the degree that some of my Christian friends have. As the song says, …you have been so, so good. Frankly, I am not deserving of any more favors from you. Yet with all my heart, soul, and mind, in the strong Name of Jesus, I pray you would touch the polluted lungs of my grandson Charlie. Please heal him. Please let him be restored to health. Let him be united with his young wife and hold his new baby in his arms. And, Lord, thank you for all those who join me in this prayer. You see when a sparrow falls, and I know you hear every prayer. So, Lord, hear our cry today. In the healing, saving Name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.”

 

                      Bob Russell is retired minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

 

(As of today, Aug. 28, there is no update on Charlie’s condition. Please pray for him.)

 




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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10