A Prayer To God In Time Of Great Sadness
Does God Answer Our Prayers?
By Marilyn Adamson
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Have you ever known someone who really trusts God? When I was an atheist, I had a good friend who prayed often. She would tell me every week about something she was trusting God to take care of.
And every week I would see God do something unusual to answer her prayer.
Do you know how difficult it is for an atheist to observe this week after week? After a while, “coincidence” begins to sound a very weak argument.
So why would God answer my friend's prayers? The biggest reason is that she had a relationship with God. She wanted to follow God. And she actually listened to what he said.
In her mind, God had the right to direct her in life, and she welcomed him doing just that! When she prayed for things, it was a natural part of her relationship with God. She felt very comfortable coming to God with her needs, her concerns, and whatever issues were current in her life.
Furthermore, she was convinced, from what she read in the Bible, that God wanted her to rely on him that.
She pretty much exhibited what this statement from the Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”1 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”2
So, Why Doesn't God Answer Everyone's Prayers?
It may be because they don't have a relationship with God. They may know that God exists, and they might even worship God from time to time. But those who never seem to have their prayers answered probably don't have a relationship with him.
Further, they have never received from God complete forgiveness for their sin. What does that have to do with it you ask? Here is an explanation. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God.
Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”3
It's pretty natural to feel that separation from God. When people begin to ask God for something, what usually takes place? They begin with, “God, I really need your help with this problem…” And then there's a pause, followed by a restart… “I realize that I'm not a perfect person, that I actually have no right to ask you for this…
” There's an awareness of personal sin and failure. And the person knows that it's not just them; that God is aware of it too. There's a feeling of, “Who am I kidding?” What they may not know is how they can receive God's forgiveness for all their sin. They might not know that they can come into a relationship with God so that God will hear them.
This is the foundation for God answering your prayer.
How Does Prayer Work?
You must first begin a relationship with God. Here's why. Imagine that a guy named Mike asks the president of Princeton University to co-sign a car loan for him.
If Mike doesn't personally know the president of Princeton, that car loan is not going to happen.
Yet, if the daughter of this president asked her dad to co-sign a car loan for her, it would be no problem. Relationship matters.With God, when the person is actually a child of God, when the person belongs to God, he knows them and hears their prayers. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me…my sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them my hand.”4
When it comes to God then, do you really know him and does he know you? Do you have a relationship with him that warrants God answering your prayers? Or is God pretty distant, pretty much just a concept in your life? If God is distant, or you're not sure that you know God, here is how you can begin a relationship with him right now: Getting Connected.
Will God Definitely Answer Your Prayer?
For those who do know him and rely on him, Jesus seems to be wildly generous in his offer: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”5 To “remain” in him and have his words remain in them means they conduct their lives aware of him, relying on him, listening to what he says.
Then they're able to ask him whatever they want. Here is another qualifier: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
“6 God answers our prayers according to his will (and according to his wisdom, his love for us, his holiness, etc.).
Where we trip up is assuming we know God's will, because a certain thing makes sense to us! We assume that there is only one right “answer” to a specific prayer, assuming certainly THAT would be God's will. And this is where it gets tough. We live within the limits of time and limits of knowledge.
We have only limited information about a situation and the implications of future action on that situation. God's understanding is unlimited. How an event plays out in the course of life or history is only something he knows. And he may have purposes far beyond what we could even imagine.
So, God is not going to do something simply because we determine that it must be his will.
What Does It Take? What is God Inclined to Do?
Pages and pages could be filled about God's intentions toward us. The entire Bible is a description of the kind of relationship God wants us to experience with him and the kind of life he wants to give us. Here are just a few examples:
“…the Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for [trust] him!”7 Did you catch that? someone rising his chair to come to your help, “He rises to show you compassion.” “As for God, his way is perfect…He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”8 “The Lord delights in those who fear [reverence] him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”9
However, God's greatest display of his love and commitment to you is this: Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,”10 which is what Jesus did for us. And so, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”11
What about “Unanswered” Prayer?
Certainly people get sick, even die; financial problems are real, and all sorts of very difficult situations can come up. What then?
God tells us to give our concerns to him. Even as the situation remains dismal, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”12 The circumstances may look control, but they aren't. When the whole world seems to be falling apart, God can keep us together. This is when a person can be very grateful that they know God.
“The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“13 God may provide solutions, resolutions to the problem WAY beyond what you imagined possible. Probably any Christian could list examples this in their own lives. But if the circumstances do not improve, God can still give us his peace in the midst of it.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”14
It is at this point (when circumstances are still tough) that God asks us to continue to trust him — to “walk by faith, not by sight” the Bible says. But it's not blind faith. It is the very character of God.
A car traveling on the Golden Gate Bridge is fully supported by the integrity of the bridge. It doesn't matter what the driver may be feeling, or thinking about, or discussing with someone in the passenger seat.
What gets the car safely to the other side is the integrity of the bridge, which the driver was willing to trust.
In the same way, God asks us to trust his integrity, his character…his compassion, love, wisdom, righteousness on our behalf. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”15 “Trust in him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.”16
God has offered to answer the prayers of his children (those who have received him into their lives and seek to follow him). He asks us to take any concerns to him in prayer and he will act upon it according to his will.
As we deal with difficulties we are to cast our cares on him and receive from him a peace that defies the circumstances. The basis for our hope and faith is the character of God himself.
The better we know him, the more apt we are to trust him.
For more on the character of God, please see “Who is God?” or other articles on this site. The reason we pray is God's character. The first prayer God answers is your prayer to begin a relationship with God.
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Footnotes: (1) 1 John 5:14 (2) 1 Peter 3:12 (3) Isaiah 59:1,2 (4) John 10:14,27-28 (5) John 15:7 (6) 1 John 5:14,15 (7) Isaiah 30:18 (8) Psalms 18:30 (9) Psalms 147:11 (10) John 15:13 (11) Romans 8:32 (12) 1 Peter 5:7 (13) Philippians 4:5-7 (14) John 14:27 (15) Jeremiah 31:3 (rsv) (16) Psalms 62:8
About the author
Praising God – The First Thing! Do you know that praising God is the best thing to do first before anything else? Have you ever been in a situation that you feel all alone? Or have you encountered a difficult situation in your life and you don't know what to do, losing your job or suffering the loss of someone very close to your heart? Consider the good times such as when you receive a raise from your boss or earn high marks at school? What do you usually do during these moments? Praising God makes every circumstance of our lives complete, essential, and eminently worthwhile.
Webster defines the word praise as to say good things about and it is synonymous to words such as admire, commend, extol, honor, and worship. A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.1 This simply implies that the act of praising is rightfully due to God alone.
Praising God – Why?
Why is praising God important? The reasons are countless. First, God deserves to be praised and He is worthy to receive our praise:
- “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4).
- “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).
- “I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies” (2 Samuel 22:4).
- “You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).
Second, praising God is useful and favorable for us. By praising God, we are reminded of the greatness of God! His power and presence in our lives is reinforced in our understanding.
“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant” (Psalm 135:3).
Third, praise discharges strength in faith, which causes God to move on our behalf. “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2).
Praising God also transforms the spiritual environment that we have. 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 clearly illustrates the alteration that happened when the Levites gave praise and thanks to the Lord and the temple was filled with a cloud signifying the glory of God. “The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD.
Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: 'He is good; his love endures forever.' Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God.”
Fourth, God inhabits the atmosphere of praise. Psalm 22:3 says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (KJV). If we want to see a clear manifestation of God's blessings and grace, all we need to do is to praise Him with all our heart, our mind, and our soul.
Praising God – Who and When?
Who is to praise God? “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD,” states Psalm 150:6.
- “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips (Psalm 34:1).”
- “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:3-4).
- “Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD” (Psalm 134:1-2).
We cannot embark on the true joy and benefits of praising God unless we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. As children of God, He dwells in our bodies through the Holy Spirit. This means that wherever we go, God is to be praised.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states that “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Praising God – How to Praise and Worship God
How is praising God possible? Singing songs and hymns, clapping our hands, even jumping for joy…the list is endless.
We can give glory and praise to our God with the use of our physical bodies, with our hearts and minds, and with our deeds.
There are many ways to praise God! No matter how you praise and worship God, it should result in an awe of God's power, love, and grace for all of us!
Learn How to Get Started
1Definition from the NIV Bible
1Definition from the NIV Bible
WHAT DO YOU THINK? – We have all sinned and deserve God's judgment. God, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
Jesus, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was buried, and rose from the dead according to the Bible.
If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your Savior, declaring, “Jesus is Lord,” you will be saved from judgment and spend eternity with God in heaven.What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus
Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus
I still have questions
The Greatest Prayer in the World: Maundy Thursday
It is Thursday, the night before Jesus’s crucifixion. This evening has been laden with teaching (John 13–17), shocking with foot washing by the greatest for the least (John 13:3–20), epoch making with the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:20–30; Mark 14:17–26; Luke 22:14–20), and pivotal with the departure of Judas (John 13:30).
Now Jesus and the eleven have gone to the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1; Mark 14:32). Here Jesus prays the greatest prayer in the world. What hung in the balance was the glory of God’s grace and the salvation of the world. The success of Jesus’s mission to earth depended on Jesus’s prayer and the answer given. He prayed with reverence and his request was given.
The question I would to try to answer is: How does Hebrews 5:7 relate to the prayers in Gethsemane? Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” He was heard. He got his request. What does this refer to in Jesus’s life?
Loud Cries in the Garden
Nothing in Jesus’s experience comes closer to this description than the prayers of Gethsemane. “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” corresponds emotionally to Luke 22:44: “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” “Loud cries and tears” is a description of the “agony” of Jesus.
“The success of Jesus’s mission to earth depended on Jesus’s prayer and the answer given.”
What was the content of Jesus’s “prayers and supplications” in Hebrews 5:7? If we assume the content was “Remove this cup from me” (Mark 14:36), then what would it mean that “he was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7)? Hebrews teaches that, precisely because of his “reverence,” Jesus “was heard,” that is, he received his request.
But the cup was not removed. He suffered the fullness of physical pain and divine wrath. So, in what sense was Jesus “heard because of his reverence”?
His First Prayer and the Angel’s Help
Both Matthew and Mark portray Jesus as praying three separate times, and each time returning to the sleeping Peter, James, and John. Luke, on the other hand, gives a single summary description of Jesus’s prayers, and includes a detail that points to an answer to our question; namely, the visitation of the angel. Luke writes,
He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41–44)
Before the angel came to strengthen him, Jesus prayed that the cup be removed (Luke 22:42). Then the angel came, “strengthening him.” Strengthening him for what? Presumably to do what he had to do.In other words, the angel was God’s response to Jesus’s first prayer. The angel bears God’s message that there is no other way, but I will help you. Do not turn from your mission now, in spite of the terrifying prospect. I will help you.
Here is my angel to strengthen you.
Then the question is: What was the content of the prayers that followed? Luke 22:44 says, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly.” Does this mean he kept on saying, “Remove this cup from me” even more earnestly? That assumption would be unworthy of Jesus. What then was he praying? And is this different prayer what Hebrews says “was heard because of his reverence”?
He Prays a Second Time
According to Matthew, when Jesus went away a second time to pray, he did not say the identical words as the first time. The first time he said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). The second time he said, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
“Jesus did not go on praying for the cup to pass. He went on praying for success in drinking it.”
May we not assume that the angel had come to Jesus the first time he prayed, and had made plain to Jesus that it was, in fact, not possible for the cup to pass from him, but that God would help him drink it? Which is why, in his second prayer, Jesus does not ask for the cup to be removed, but instead asks for God’s will to be done in view of the revealed fact that the cup cannot pass: “If this cannot pass unless I drink it [which has now been made plain to me by the coming of the angel], your will be done.”
When Mark says of the second prayer of Jesus, “And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words” (Mark 14:39), it need not contradict this, as though only the same words were spoken all three times. “The same words” may simply refer to “Your will be done,” which indeed Jesus prays each time.
If we are on the right track, then the content of Jesus’s supplications after the angel came was not the same as before. He did not go on praying, “Let this cup pass from me.” It says, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly” (Luke 22:44). If he was not praying more earnestly for the cup to be removed, then what was he praying?
His Greatest Act of Obedience
Hebrews 5:7 says, “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” If “save him from death” does not mean “Remove this cup from me,” what does it mean? For he was certainly heard and received this request.
Jonathan Edwards answers,
This was the greatest act of obedience that Christ was to perform. He prays for strength and help, that his poor feeble human nature might be supported, that he might not fail in this great trial, that he might not sink and be swallowed up, and his strength so overcome that he should not hold out, and finish the appointed obedience.
He was afraid lest his poor feeble strength should be overcome, and that he should fail in so great a trial, that he should be swallowed up by that death that he was to die, and so should not be saved from death; and therefore he offered up strong crying and tears unto him that was able to strengthen him, and support, and save him from death, that the death he was to suffer might not overcome his love and obedience, but that he might overcome death, and so be saved from it. (“Christ’s Agony”)Jesus did not go on praying for the cup to pass. He went on praying for success in drinking it.
When Paul says of Jesus’s resurrection, “Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9), the “therefore” refers to Jesus’s unwavering obedience unto death: “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore . . .” (Philippians 2:8). God saved Jesus from death because he was obedient. His prayers were answered.
The Father’s Answer
If Jesus had not been obedient unto death, he would have been swallowed up by death forever and there would be no resurrection, no salvation, and no future world filled with the glory of God’s grace and God’s children. This is what Jesus prayed for “to him who was able to save him from death” — that is, save him from a death that would not succeed its saving mission.
“Every hope of the gospel succeeds because of Jesus’s reverent earnestness in prayer.”
“He was heard because of his reverence.” God did save him from the threat that such a death posed to his obedience. Jesus did succeed. There is salvation for all who believe. There will be a new world full of the glory of God’s grace and God’s children.
And all of this is owing to the greatest prayer in the world. Every hope of the gospel succeeds because of Jesus’s reverent earnestness in prayer, and the answer of the Father. “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly . . . and he was heard because of his reverence” (Luke 22:44; Hebrews 5:7).
Evidently, by the time Jesus was done praying in Gethsemane, the Father had not only made clear that there is no other way than the cross, but also that this way would succeed.
The Lamb would have the reward of his suffering. He will “see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:10–11).
Surely this is why Hebrews 12:2 could say, “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross.” Beneath the terrors of present agony was the taste of future joy. The angel had come, “strengthening him” — clarifying, confirming, connecting the coming joy.