I do, and have done the right thing for a very long time now. I have done all that I think I am, and was suppose to. I am a good person most the time. God has certainly answered my prayers in the past…so-o-o-o what is different this time? This time it is important, serious, and needs to be answered quickly. I am beginning to wonder if God ALWAYS hears our prayers!
We are all “descendants” of Adam and Eve, thus, subjected to the consequence of God’s Righteous Discipline for their disobedience. By the Grace of God, He permits and will provide “happiness” for us…His children (His creation). However, my brothers and sisters in Christ, happiness is notjoy! Happiness blesses us with a pleasing and positive emotion…but that emotion has a somewhat short existence. Joy, on the other hand is ALWAYS with us because its permanent residence resides within us!Joy is what Adam and Eve originally had with God before sin and the expulsion. Happiness is what God blessed them with, out of His love, when they made a residence outside the sanctuary. Happiness is momentary whereas joy is long lasting. Happiness comes from the outside, while joy comes from within. While experiencing joy, one is in a state of Grace. I have heard it better said that happiness simply pleases a person, while joy brings warmth and contentment to the heart of a person. I recall reading that happiness can also be characterized as being materialistic, and rest more on worldly pleasures, while joy is a state derived from the emotional well-being of a person. So what does all that have to do with whether God is saying no or worse yet…not always hearing my prayers! Is it possible that we give up too soon when we pray? Isaiah wrote, “The Lord waits to be gracious to you and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him” (Isaiah 30:18). So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
If the preceding paragraph does not “connect” with you…then you already know what I am going to share — CONGRATULATIONS! If, on the other hand, that paragraph sounds like something you have thought or even might currently be thinking — I pray that what I am about to share with you becomes a blessing. Stick with me here and please allow me to unpack and provide some foundation in order to, hopefully, provide greater understanding of my central theme.Happiness and joy are both pleasing and positive emotions. They both can produce an odd sort of addiction though. By addiction, I mean a craving or obsession that grows into a supposed need, which then transforms into habit - consciously and/or subconsciously leading to dependence. What? Okay…people want to be happy and be filled with joyall the time….whew! To all those people, I would like to recommend a review of the Book of Genesis. Particularly Gen. 2:17 through Gen. 3:24. In case you do not recall those verses, allow me to paraphrase prayerfully exposing a “gem”. Adam, the first Adam (see I Cor. 15:45) was in the very Presence of God! Oh, what extreme “joy” Adam lived in! God creates a partner for Adam. Oh, what extreme “joy” Adam and Eve lived in! Living in the very Presence of God Almighty, their Creator! From Scripture one reads that God only gave them one commandment. They were commanded to never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They disregarded God’s command and ate from that tree. They are expelled from the garden (with their new knowledge) and many thousands of years later…here we are. Borrowing from the ESV Study Bible, “According to Gen. 2:15, the man was put in the garden to work it and keep or guard it.” The ESV goes on to assert, “By allowing themselves to be manipulated by the serpent, the couple failed to fulfill their priestly duty of guarding the garden. Consequently, their priestly status is removed from them as they are put out of the sanctuary” (ESV. p. 57).
Remember: Do not simply believe what I present. Research everything I write, as well as what someone else might write. Before understanding can be truly useful — one MUST “receive” the message presented. That requires you proving to yourself what is being presented to you.
I am going to extract some points made by a facilitator (Dr. Roels) teaching a course on Prayer at the Christians Leaders Institute. If I may be so bold as to offer a suggestion; read, think, then read a second time and try to “unpack” what you read to a greater degree. Take your time and truly explore.
* Are there un-confessed sins in your life? If we knowingly harbor sin and will not repent of the sin, we make a barrier between God and ourselves. He will not answer our prayers the way we desire because we refuse to repent. By repentance, we glorify God by demonstrating our true humility and sincerity.
* What is the true motive behind your prayer? We sometimes pray for things selfishly or for things which will serve only to make our lives easier or more pleasant. Do not abuse the privilege and Blessing of prayer by selfishly focusing on your own wishes and desires. God knows our needs before we present it. Only God knows the “big picture”. Ask yourself how what you are praying for glorifies God’s name or helps His Kingdom to be advanced.
* Harboring an unforgiving or negative attitude toward others in our hearts may be the problem. A perfect example of this can be found in the Book of Mark 11:25. Jesus said, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
* It is quite reasonable to accept that He is disciplining us for some sin we have committed. This is how Dr. Roels explained this one. Dr. Roels wrote, “Even though He graciously forgives our sins when we confess and forsake them, He may still punish us for that sin or let sin “run its course” in our lives with negative consequences that result from a bad or sinful choice we have made.”
* Sometimes God uses unpleasant or difficult circumstances to draw us closer to Him. He knows that our greatest spiritual growth often comes through trials, hurt, defeat, sickness, or disappointment rather than through material prosperity or success.
* God may be saying “No” so that something much better can be accomplished. That possibility is exhibited throughout the Old Testament (OT) as well as the New Testament (NT).
* It could be we do not pray with a humble and sincere faith that God will answer our prayers. It is my experience that too many people see prayer as some sort of ATM machine with their opinion of faith being the access card. Dr. Roels provided the following verse to aid with clarification. The writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote, ”And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).
I sincerely pray that this message helps you now or will help you in the future if needed. Always bear in mind that we are mortal creatures with, as Dr. Roels wrote, “….limited knowledge, limited understanding, and limited holiness.” God cannot lie — He is incapable of a lie. Therefore, we can believe Him when He promises to hear and answer us.
Did God just say “No”? He may have! Our heavenly Father ALWAYS hears our prayers, even prayers that contain no words! Remember that God saying “no” is as much an answer as “yes”.
In conclusion, I would like to offer the following thoughts:
* We cannot change what occurred in the garden. Sin began and we must learn to accept the fact that absolute and eternal joy was sacrificed. The loss of that joy made a huge void in our hearts. A search for filling that void began. Unfortunately, the on-going search was, and still is, self-serving.
* God, being merciful, grants us happiness.
* Happiness will not, and cannot, fill that huge void left by the absence of joy in our heart.
* Being “fallen” human beings, we are on a constant search consciously and/or subconsciously for as much happiness as possible. We know that deep inside something is not in harmony. That “something” constantly gnaws at us as we continually try to find, make, and acquire more happiness. However, happiness is like using a band-aid on a sucking chest wound!
* We do, in fact maintain some joy in our lives. We cherish and protect that joy knowing full well that it is with us ONLY because of God’s loving Grace.
* You MUST come to the foot of The Cross. You MUST confess, repent, and ask prayerfully for Christ Jesus to live in you. You MUST receive the Lord and commit your life to Him before you should even expect any answers to prayer. If you do belong to Christ Jesus you MUST remember that you will not have every prayer answered the way YOU want it to be answered or even with the speed you think it should be answered.
* God knows your needs and can tell a need from a want! Certainly express your needs as well as your wants to the Lord. We learn from our Holy Bible that God desires to increase our joy because He loves us – His creation. But because of our “history” any increase in our joy will only happen if it is God’s Will regardless of all our complaining and bargaining.
Trust in the Lord your God. Wait on the Lord your God. His ways are not our ways.
From the Book of Isaiah, “Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you upon him while he is near:
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55: 6-13).
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: