Prayer To Follow The Will Of God
5 Ways God Answers Prayer
Over the years, I’ve discovered from Scripture and experience that God loves to answer our prayers. Here are five of his most frequent answers:
1. “No, I love you too much.”
The Lord of the universe isn’t under obligation to say “yes” to every prayer. That’s a good thing considering some of the things we request!
But sometimes God says “no” to our most heartfelt requests. Have you discovered this to be true in your own life? I certainly have. When my friend Diane started losing her hearing. When my mother-in-law came down with polio. When my nephew contracted AIDS.
I would be known as Luis Palau Jr. if it weren’t for the fact that God said “no” to my most earnest childhood prayers. Shortly after my tenth birthday, my father, Luis Palau Sr., contracted bronchial pneumonia and died ten days later.
Death became, to me, the most undeniable reality under heaven. Everything else can be rationalized and wondered about and discussed, but death is there, staring you in the face. It’s real. It happens. Even to the most godly people. No matter how hard we pray. Why? Because we still live in a fallen world.
I’ve been reminded of this repeatedly since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America. Tens of thousands of lives were spared. But God said “no” to thousands of other prayers. Will good come of their deaths? I believe so.
Without a doubt, the death of my father has had more impact on my ministry than anything else in my entire life, besides my own conversion to Jesus Christ. My wish and desire is that people get right with God, settle the big question, and die happy, knowing… my father…that they will be with Jesus, “which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Does that mean we shouldn’t bother to pray? Just the opposite. Over the years, traveling throughout the world, I’ve discovered four other ways God frequently answers prayer.
Believe me, He loves to say yes!”
2. “Yes, but you’ll have to wait.”
Immediate answers to prayer. You want them. I want them. But God simply does not always work that way. And to get His best, we must be patient. In some cases, we must wait until 11:59 for His answer to come.
Phil Callaway didn’t know what to say when his young children asked if Mommy was going to die. His wife, Ramona, suffered horrible seizures. Hundreds of friends and relatives prayed, but Ramona’s weight eventually slipped to ninety pounds. Medical specialists tried everything, but by the fall of 1996, the seizures were occurring daily, sometimes hourly.
Phil rarely left Ramona’s side. He wondered if she would even make it to her thirtieth birthday. One evening, when things looked utterly hopeless, Phil paced their dark backyard, then fell to his knees. “God!” he cried out. “I can’t take it anymore. Please do something!”
As he stood, a doctor’s name came to mind. Phil called the doctor, who saw Ramona the next morning and diagnosed a rare chemical deficiency. Within a week, Ramona was a different person. The seizures ended. Her eyes lit up with the sparkle that had first attracted Phil to her. The miracle was so incredible Phil says, “God gave me back my wife.”
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7.
3. “Yes, but quite different from how you thought I would answer.”
Have you ever asked God to use you? If so, expect the unexpected!
National Football League running back Sherman Smith, the “Sherman Tank,” stood six feet four inches tall and packed two hundred twenty-five pounds of the most muscle you’d ever want to tackle. His reputation for bowling over defensive linesmen raised his celebrity to near-cult status in the Pacific Northwest, where he played for the Seattle Seahawks. He was treated royalty.
Then, without warning, the Seahawks traded their most popular player to the San Diego Chargers Everything changed overnight for this running back whose Christian faith was as rock solid as his rib cage. He wasn’t with the Chargers for more than a few weeks when he blew out his knee. While in rehabilitation, he wondered, Lord, why did you ship me to San Diego?
But while his knee mended, Sherman had the opportunity to lead one of his teammates to the Lord. That converted party-man, Miles McPherson, has since become an outstanding youth evangelist who reaches tens of thousands each year.
Why was Sherman traded to San Diego? He now knows God wanted to use him, all right!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
4. “Yes, and here’s more!”
Ever wonder if the Lord knows what you want and need?
Australian David Smallbone felt God leading him to promote Christian concerts. He started in a country where Christianity had taken root among only five percent of the people. When too few fans filled seats during one major tour, however, David took a $250,000 bath in red ink.
Creditors swiftly repossessed his home, and the father of six looked for work elsewhere. A top artist offered him a job in Nashville, so the Smallbones sold their furniture and other possessions and purchased tickets to America.
A few weeks after they arrived in the U.S., however, David was informed that his position was no longer available. He literally could not get bed for several days. Then he and his wife explained what happened to the children. They got on their knees and asked God to help them.
Then the most interesting things happened. God provided bags of groceries, a mini van, and odd jobs. Then the biggest surprise of all…a recording contract for David’s oldest daughter, Rebecca, age fifteen. She recorded her first album using an old family name, St. James.
Flash forward to today. David promotes his own daughter’s sold-out concerts. Rebecca St. James has become one of the hottest Christian artists in America. Christianity Today magazine has named her one of the top fifty up-and-coming evangelical leaders under age forty. We love asking her to sing at our evangelistic festivals around the country.
All along…no surprise…God knew what he was doing!
“'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11).
5. “Yes, I thought you’d never ask.”
Many people think prayer is complicated. Actually, the simplest prayer can bring you the miracle you need, when you need it.
After a serious fall, an older gentleman named Luke Mulder prayed to receive Jesus Christ. He then prayed for his wife, Clara, who was visiting her sister in California. That very same day Clara heard a Gospel presentation and trusted Christ.
Christian cartoonist Ron Wheeler dreamed of creating evangelistic tracts, but he needed a new computer. He did his homework, found out what he needed, and started to pray.
Two weeks later, a friend called Ron the blue and offered him a new computer…the exact model Ron had been praying about.
Shortly after setting up the computer, Ron received a phone call from American Tract Society asking him to design a whole series of evangelistic cartoon tracts.
My friends Esteban and Carmela Tosoni were driving one of the highest mountain passes in the world when their car broke down at dusk. They were twenty miles from the nearest town.
So the Tosoni family prayed for God to send help.
When they opened their eyes, a mechanic appeared nowhere, walked straight over to their car, immediately asked if he could help, fixed their gas filter, then departed.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
5 Ways To Follow God’s Plan For Your Life
Matthew 4:19b-20 says, “’Follow Me (Jesus) and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they (Simon and Andrew) left their nets and followed Him.” God has a plan for your life and mine.
Simon and Andrew’s life plan with Christ started right in that very verse. How can you know what is God’s plan for your life? The Bible is chalk full of truth and wisdom on how we all can follow God’s plan for us.
As always, let us look into the inspired Word of God, the Holy Bible, for concrete answers.
Trust in God’s Judgment
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This needs to be the first stepping stone in a believer’s journey. God had a plan for you before you were even born.
(Galatians 1:15) As believers, we can follow God’s plan for us by believing that He has everything in control and His sovereignty will guide us exactly where He wants us to go. Even right now, you did not arrive to read this article by accident.
God led you here, just as He will lead you on to other places whether it be a local/non-local mission, church function, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. There are so many places to shine God’s love which is why He has a plan set out for each one of us.
If God impresses compassion on you for someone else, then let the Holy Spirit guide you to help that person, whether it is praying for them, feeding them, clothing them or spreading the good news of salvation to them.
You Have a Skill Set
How can you know what is God’s plan for your life?
One great way to see what God has planned for your life is to look at the skills that you have been blessed with. Exodus 35:30-35 has Moses speaking to Israel about specific men with specific skills that they were given by God to use for His glory.
God has blessed me musically, so I serve Him in the church worship team. Do you public speaking? Maybe consider being a preacher. Do you hands-on activities? Maybe consider missions or becoming a caretaker of the church.
If you aren’t already involved in your church, please consider the skills you have been given by God and see how you can benefit His kingdom.
Be in Prayer
Prayer is the way to stay connected with God through open communication. If you don’t know what God’s plan is for you, ask Him in prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.
” (1 John 5:14-15) When you pray that “God’s will be done” in your life, God “will” always show you your next step in His plan. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to, “pray without ceasing.” While trusting in God to lead us, it is important that we stay in contact with Him. God still yearns for a relationship with us.
As we honor Him in prayer, He will guide us according to His will.
Be Intentional – Stay Committed – IN LOVE
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) You can be sure of one thing: God’s plan for you involves love.
You may be doing what the Holy Spirit has placed on your heart and mind, but if you are only active in your mind and leave your heart behind, then you are missing the point my friends. Be active in God’s plan while loving those that you are in contact with.
Keep your heart engaged in every opportunity you have to do the Lord’s work. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a)
Answer When God Calls
Any time that you see a need and you have the resources to provide, then answer the call. If God has placed a burden on your heart to love children, please consider adoption or a children’s ministry.
If God has placed a burden on you to love the elderly, please consider helping out in retirement homes (they love carolers!) or helping the elderly at the grocery store with their bags. If God has placed a burden on you to help feed the hungry, please consider serving in a soup kitchen or giving food items to a food drive.
There are so many places that all of us can serve. When God calls, He is serious. Matthew 25:35-40 says, “’For I (Jesus) was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” You see, my friends, that whenever you serve another person, you are also serving Christ and answering the call. Matthew 25:41-46 says the exact opposite of the previous passage. It tells of how those who reject the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison will also be rejected from entering heaven because rejecting another human being is also rejecting Christ, himself. Please answer when God calls!! Whenever you ignore His call, you are ignoring Him! Whenever you listen and respond to His call, you are serving Him too!
These are only 5 of many ways that we can follow the plan that God has for us. I hope and pray that if you don’t know what God is doing in your life right now that you will spend time faithfully in prayer, asking our Father what His will is for your life. As always, I encourage you all to live a life worthy of the calling. God bless you!
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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