Over the last few months I’ve been re-visiting prayer and asking a lot of questions. So the next few months will probably lead to a few posts on prayer. Does it work? How does it work? What does prayer mean to you? In the last post on Does Prayer Really Work? my mother described prayer as a ‘conversation with God’. That simple explanation has really resonated with me. Prayer is such an integral part of a believers life, but I don’t think that we should take it for granted. It’s healthy that we revisit and examine why we do what we do…. xxx Lisa.
Biblical Examples of Answered Prayer
To facilitate the promise that God had given, Abraham needed to find his son Isaac a bride. Marriage to a Canaanite woman would ‘contaminate the promised seed’ (Anderson, 1988:175), so Abraham sends his chief servant back to Mesopotamia to find a suitable wife. The servant leaves on a journey of divine faith trusting completely in the God of Abraham as is shown in his heartfelt prayer (Gen 24:12 – 14). Miraculously, the servant’s prayer is answered.
God was faithfully guiding the servant so that the promise could be fulfilled. ‘The story leaves no doubt that Yahweh was guiding the servant’s journey, despite the uncertainty in the servants mind. Nothing happened by chance. Yahweh meant it to turn out just as it did’ (Anderson, 1988: 175).
This story is a magnificent portrayal of Gods guidance and his marvellous ability to answer prayer. Many times I have been required to step out with nothing more than the knowledge that God would not abandon me. I found this particularly true with the death of my husband having no idea what my next step would be.
‘Often guidance will become clear when we take a concrete step in a certain direction’ (Couchman, 1998:118).
Taking the first step was the hardest part, but God was there walking alongside me.
2 Kings 19:5-19
‘So we…petitioned our God about this and he answered our prayer’ (Ezra 8:23).
Sennacherib was threatening to destroy Israel. Hezekiah was one of Jerusalem’s most outstanding kings, he prays for the lord to deliver them. Besieged in Jerusalem by the Assyrians, Hezekiah refused to submit so they march to subdue him (Schultz, 1990:433). The Assyrians ridiculed God, ‘demanding unconditional surrender’ and boasting that he could not save them (Anderson, 1988:348).
Isaiah dramatically prophesies the fall of Sennacherib. Isaiah believed that Jerusalem would be saved because of the promises of God to the city regarding the Temple and the Davidic throne (Anderson, 1988:349). Isaiah knew that God would always stand by his promises to his people.
Crisis brings out the best in Hezekiah. God answers his prayers for deliverance, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled and Jerusalem is saved (Alexander, 1999:310).
Hezekiah did everything within his power to prepare for the attack; however he did not wholly depend on human resources. He boldly expressed his confidence in God (Schultz, 1990:213).
‘With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles’ (2 Chron 32:8).
2 Chronicles 7:12-22
‘Walk humbly with your God’ ( Mic 6:8).
Solomon has just completed the temple and has offered acceptable sacrifices to God. The temple is sanctioned for worship and also a place of prayer. ‘In a second appearing God agrees to all of Solomon’s requests, But in return he expects loyal obedience’ (Alexander, N. 1999:318). The temple is not only seen now as a place of sacrifice but as also as a place of prayer. Isaiah 56:7 also describes the house of God as a ‘house of prayer’, a prelude to the New Testament church.
What becomes evident is that God is offering a way to hear from him and receive his blessings, but if they disobey there are dreadful warnings. 1 John 2:1 also gives an example of this ‘ I write this so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin…’ the sacrifice today of course is Jesus (Alexander, P. 1999:503).
God is looking for a people with humility, who will pray and who want to seek his face.
‘Humble prayer that abandons disobedience …triggers divine love’ ( Alexander N. 1999: 500). Humility is such a small price to pay to have the eyes and ears of the lord open and attentive to our prayers (verse 15).
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