WHO IS DIRECTING MY PRAYERS?
Prayers are clouded in mystery. Some are answered and some are not. Who is directing and even filtering my prayers? Obviously, not all of them appear to reach God. What did Jesus actually mean when he said, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn. 14:13-14). It is apparent that I did not and still do not understand what Jesus promised I could have. I have been re-examining my petitions and requests to determine why I am not receiving an answer, and what I found is not what pleases me.
The first thing I must ask myself, are my prayers honoring the name of Jesus who glorified the Father? I have to confess that my needs and wants were not answered, but my desire to live longer was. I already have received eighteen more years to glorify God. Every day has become a new discovery into what I really need that would comply with the will of our heavenly Father. God, who is impartial and neutral, cannot give me “whatever or anything” that would place others in jeopardy. We are quite able to do that on our own. He lets His sun shine on saints and sinners. God gives exactly what everyone needs, and not what each one desires. There is enough for every one that is satisfied with their daily bread, and we do not seek to store it in barns where rust and moth corrupt. I have seen wealth evaporate like vapor or disappear like smoke. I have gone hungry for days, but I did not starve. Our home, for over half a year, was a wagon pulled by two horses that took seven of us to freedom from persecution and death. At the end of every day, we were thankful that we survived. We asked way too much when we can get by on so very little.
The second thing I need is some one that directs and filters my prayers. As I indicated in an earlier study, that my prayers can bless me or curse me. For that reason alone, I need some one to keep them from hurting me. Many times I have asked, in the name of Jesus, to help some one in a way I presumed would have been best for that person but it was not. In that case, I damaged the faith of that person and hurt myself. What I willed for that person was not God’s will. It humbled me and even questioned my faith. That is why, I am persuaded that, I need Jesus to look out for me and He does not let my selfish prayers hurt anyone. In fact, God in His foreknowledge, put His Son in an intercessory position. The author to the Hebrews had a similar belief. “Now there were many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:23-25). The Apostle Paul had a similar thought on his mind. “Who is it that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Ro. 8:34).
Thirdly, my physical condition does weaken my mental capacity. Jesus, Himself, was aware of it when He urged His disciples to pray. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Lk. 22:46). He, too, loved this life and Jesus was not overly anxious to give it up (Mk. 14:36). Temptation is not just a moral problem; but, it is primarily the loss of my ability to manage myself. It is when my stomach begins to lead my mind and makes me live on bread alone. When temptation takes over my mind, it can lead to fatal consequences. It is under such condition, that many have committed suicide. Fortunately, they only ended their physical existence, but not their souls. Our souls belong to the Creator and He has the ultimate say over us, and not some human being in power. Who are we to tell loved ones that their loved one had chosen to go to the wrong place? How do we know that such a person may not have committed his/her soul to the Father like Jesus did before He was crucified?
I was physically disabled for life and life on earth had little meaning. Three nurses cared for me for four months. The daytime nurse had enough of my self – degradation and complains. One morning she looked me in the face and raised her voice and said, “I will wheel the bed over to the window and you can jump out.” She knew that I needed two men to assist me, but her seriousness awakened my mind and I began to look for the possibilities my new life may have. I was blessed with many people that helped my mind to look past my disability. Of course, I had important people discouraging me from even trying to become a minister. They were right, for my road was a difficult one in a cruel world; but the human spirit, with a little help, can conquer any obstacle. I found comfort in Paul’s words, “No temptation has seized you except that is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (I Cor. 10:13).
At that point in my life, I become unable to ask for the things that were beneficial for me, or even for those whom I loved. Again, the Lord Jesus provided for such moments when asking seemed useless. The answer was not in the wind, but in the spirit. God’s Spirit can take charge over my life, when I am no longer mentally able to choose and able to discern. Jesus did promise to pray to send some one to help me through my crisis, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Companion (parakleton) who will always be with you – the Spirit of truth itself” (Jn. 14:16-17). It is the Spirit of God that keeps me in the family of God, especially when I am weak and suffer hardships (Ro. 8:15-17). The Spirit does the interceding for me. Paul had a similar weakness when he wrote, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the redeemed (hagion) in compliance with God’s will” (Ro. 8:26-27).
This leads me to the fourth and most important part regarding the directing of my prayers because the Spirit needs a body to function on earth where I prepare for my eternal abode. It is a healthy and strong body that can glorify and serve God best. We make much about God being on the side of the weak and not with the strong. I know that such a view is misconceived. My strength at eighty-four is far less than it was at thirty, even at thirty a lad at sixteen ran past me with ease. When I decided to serve Christ, I already had a damaged body and because of it I was less effective with far too many people. To some, my talks about faith and healing was contradicted my own condition. In fact, some regarded me as having been a great sinner to endure the punishment by fire. Why did my God allow this fire accident to happen to me? It was my mistake and not His. And if it had not happened, I would be farming in Germany. I would not be telling my fellow human beings that, “Our bodies house the Spirit and Breath of God and what we do with our bodies either glorifies or disgraces God’s image in us.” I know this for a fact God gave me exactly what I needed and not what I wanted. I only wished that I could have taken better care of my body and be a better witness for my Lord Jesus. In this world, my body is the image of me and your body is the image of you. Billions are spent on improving our looks to arouse interest in us. Modern clothing could use some fig leaves to prevent a heap of trouble (Gen. 3:7).