Jesus’ description of God as a loving, caring father who wants to provide for our needs, not necessarily our wants, means that God answers prayer in one three ways: Yes, No, Later

Most of us are happy when God says Yes to our prayers, although you should be warned that sometimes we get more than we bargained for when God says yes to our prayers, because the yes may lead to consequences we could never have imagined. So sometimes in a clear, and often dramatic way, God will say Yes to our prayers. We asked to hear Redeem the Commute stories, and the very day that someone prayed about that, we heard Jason’s story.

But sometimes God will say no for a variety of reasons. Our prayers may have the wrong motives, like “drop dead prayers”. Prayers for revenge, fame and fortune rarely get answered with the word yes.

Sometimes we are praying for simply frivolous things. “Lord please give us a sunny day for a soccer match”—when the local farmers are praying for rain. Sometimes God says no because we are requesting what is not good for us, and we can’t even see it. God loves us and knows what it is best for us.

Yesterday: Good parents do not always give their children what they ask for. If a 4 year old asks to play with the knives a good parent says no. By answering every prayer Yes, God would in effect abdicate, turning the world over to us to run. History shows how we have handled the limited freedom granted to us: genocide, wars, polluted the earth, concentrated pockets of wealth and grinding poverty.

God will answer no if the things we ask for are either not good in themselves, or not good for us, or good for others, either immediately or ultimately. Ruth Graham (Billy Graham’s wife) tells a story “God has not always granted my requests. If he had I would have married the wrong man, several times.

Awful things happen in world – like Oklahoma tornadoes. Some were praying in that moment of terror or death. Some people are still alive, and were not praying. Exactly how God answers prayer is a mystery. All that we say today about prayer must be said with all humility because at some point we stand back and respect and bow our heads before the mystery of prayer, especially the mystery of hearing the word No.

Later is of course a combination of Yes and No. Yes, but not now. No for now, but yes for later. And of course what we may perceive as a no right now, is in fact a later. Sometimes no and later can in hindsight be a great blessing, that only makes sense in hindsight.

Question: Since prayers can be answered in these three ways, how do you think Jesus wants his followers to pray?

Cast: Redeem the Commute


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