Ravi Zacharius brought up an interesting thought on prayer on his radio show last month. He was talking about unanswered prayer and the examples given by Jesus in the new testament. Consider how Jesus prayed for unity, and that there is no unity in a single church, much less is there any unity across some 34,000 denominations. Likewise, Jesus prayer in the garden where he asked the cup be taken from him and yet it was not….
So, would this be the case as some well meaning Christian’s say that Jesus had a sin problem, and if he only quit sinning that God would fullfill his requests? Would this be a case where in if only Jesus had used the right magic words, perhaps the name it and claim it thing that His prayer would have been answered? Perhaps had Jesus given more seed money to the temple priests that he would reap ten fold or more and His problems would be solved? And then what about the bit where Jesus himself says you do not have because you do not ask and yet His own prayer requests were not fullfilled? And yet, all through the scriptures, we see how God answers the prayers of his people.
So what gives with this? Might we in the above examples be trying to force God to conform to our views as to what he is and what he should do, rather than letting Him be Him as Jesus did? This is not an easy thing to ponder. Certainly a rabbits foot god model is not a good thing, but going to extremes the other way, (cynicism, open theism, and gnosticism) isn’t good either.
I think back to the prayers I made during my late wifes last days in the hospital. Up until I had to sign off on the cesation of curative medicine, I fully believed that God would heal her… and yet before nightfall she was gone. Over our 21 years together, prayers were often answered, in many cases with outcomes far surpassing our expectations, and yet, the answer was different at the end. The thing is, God’s presence was never more obvious than during her last days and hours… perhaps an answer to prayer in and of itself.