On those occasions when our prayers aren’t answered as we have hoped I’ve argued that for us to simply conclude God said “no” is over-simplifying things. Such isn’t just an insufficient explanation; it’s a position that can be detrimental to one’s trust in God. As noted before, there are many factors to consider when it comes to prayer. Last time we spoke of such things as: GOD’S WILL, FAITH (both of the person praying as well as the intended recipient of the prayer), as well as the matter of PERSISTENCE. Although God is alive and
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Concerning those times things don’t go the way our prayers anticipate, there are other factors at play. According to Scripture the NUMBER of people praying is very relevant. There are countless times in which, as Boyd suggests, “large groups of people were called together or when biblical characters ask others to join them in prayer.” While there is certainly efficacy in private personal prayer (Ja. 5:16), Jesus emphasized the remarkable power of numbers. Remember that time He told His disciples: “if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 18:19)? Although He is using hyperbole, numbers matter when it comes to prayer.
Another relevant factor is human FREE WILL. God designed the world so that we have choice; we are not slavish robots.(Lk. 9:23; Rev. 22:17) Such certainly comes into play when we pray, especially for the lost. Have you ever thought about what it is that you’re actually praying for when you pray for a lost family member or friend? We all know people that we want to love Jesus, yet for whatever reason they have not so chosen. So, when we are praying for them, what is it that you are wanting God to do? Suspend their free will? That’s impossible given the nature of the world that God created.
Thus, as we evoke God’s name on behalf of a loved one in need of the Gospel, rather than asking or expecting God to save them against their will, our goal is for their heart to be awakened. “Lord bring something into their life (hopefully good, even bad, whatever it takes) to awaken their intrinsic desire to seek You.” They need a Savior, yet due to sin, stubbornness or distraction they just don’t see it yet. Our prayers are limited by free will.
The vastness of the complexity surrounding prayer is mind-boggling. Still, keep on praying! More to come.
You are loved,