Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Does God Change as a Result of our Prayers? Part 3

Timing? - The Sponge Game. (I Sam. 1, Matt. 6: 25-34, Gen. 37:5- 42:8)

How often do you get your answers to prayer with lots of time to spare? How often have you correctly predicted the miraculous answer to the prayer you have been repeating for years? You still don’t have the answer you have been praying for? You are not alone. Joseph had a vision from God that someday his brothers would bow down to him (Gen. 37:5-8). Jealous, they sold him into slavery (v38), and he ended up rising to the head of staff of his Master’s household (Gen. 39:6) only to be thrown into prison for something he didn’t do (Gen. 39:19-20). Then in prison, he correctly predicted the outcome of visions of two of the prisoners (Gen. 40:12-14). When they promised to help him by getting him released, they forgot about him (40:23) until the King had a similar vision. Timing? About 20 years after the visions he’d seen one from God he saw his prayers answered as he rose to second in command of Egypt (Gen 41:28-36) with his brothers begging him for food in the middle of a famine (Gen. 42:7-8).

Hannah just knew her calling was to be a mom. I Samuel 1:1-20. However, year after year she had a household tormentor who reminded her of her infertility (v7). In a time when your offspring were your credentials she had none. But God did answer her prayer (v20). She has a son named Samuel and she fulfilled her promise to God to commit him to God’s service.

We too have issues with God’s timing. A friend of mine was going through a particularly rough patch in his life when he grabbed up a kitchen sponge from our sink, placed it precariously close to falling off the edge of our kitchen counter, and said that God was always there for him, but usually pulling him back from the edge right at the time he thought he was doomed to fall over the edge.

God doesn’t really play the “sponge game” with us, we just lack the closeness with God to understand he has it all under control. Jesus reassured each of us in the “sermon on the mount” that there is a cure for our anxiety. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus reminded us that we cannot add an inch to our height by “taking thought” (v27) and he reminds us that Solomon in all his glory was not adorned like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field (v. 28-29). He ends his discourse on reliance by saying “seek first His kingdom and all these things will be provided to you (v33).”

Don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own (v34). The day’s worries can defeat us or teach us daily reliance when we don’t have the resources to handle them ourselves. The important thing to know about prayer and God’s timing is that God wants us to pray and turn it over to him. He is in control of the timing of the “big answer.” We are only responsible for daily faithfulness. We live for a God who cares. Let him worry about the details. Enjoy the air you breathe and the food you eat today. Don’t worry about how close you are to the edge. God will always save you from the precarious appearance of the “sponge game”.