Does God answer all our prayers?

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You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2 NIV

This kind of verse can hurt.  We all have those people and situations about whom and for whom we have consistently prayed, often pleading with intensity that the Father would DO something! It could be a spiritual change in heart for a non-believing family member so that he feels compelled to turn to God.  Or maybe a cry for healing or way forward where there seems to be nothing but one obstacle after another.

But sometimes we haven’t even thought to pray, to bring a need before the Lord. Why would that be? In my case, I think Satan has blocked me from seeing that we could add a need to our joint prayers at night.  And it’s not because I entertain a kind of pious-sounding false humility that goes something like this: “Oh, I don’t believe in praying for myself.  That feels selfish. Besides, God’s got bigger fish to fry!” Have you ever heard that from fellow believers?

Let me give you an example of something Mike and I never thought to pray for daily. We’ve been talking about his upcoming planned retirement in a year, if that be God’s will. He loves recording books and doing voice-over work. About three weeks ago, we decided to include in our evening prayers a daily petition for more voice-over work right now.

What do you know!  Last Friday, Jen from ‘His Productions’ contacted Mike with the news that another pastor had selected him from all the other audio samples on the company’s website to voice this pastor’s intros and outros for his planned teachings on the entire Bible.

Boom!  Just like that, more audio work.  That sure encouraged us to keep praying.

Three days later, I heard the good news of another answered prayer. Mike’s mom had been lamenting that her daughter-in-law never seems to want to hop on Zoom during her weekly catch-up call with Mike’s brother, her youngest son.  My mother-in-law was wondering if she had somehow offended this gal.  Mike and I added their relationship to our nightly prayers.

Not 3 weeks after we started praying specifically for Mom and Eve to connect on Zoom, I learned that the Lord had answered our prayer. Mom had been able to chat briefly with her other daughter-in-law on the most recent Zoom call with Steve.

My theory is that God loves to respond quickly to many of our ‘small’ needs in order to encourage us to persevere in prayer, to NOT give up counting on him to handle all those burdens that we off-load in obedience. For sure, we all have been praying for months and years about many situations.  But you know, if you think about all the ‘moving parts’, all the circumstances and timing that God is coordinating, then you can see that arrangements can take time.  There is a ‘fullness of time’ for everything we ask for, whether the answer is as we requested OR whether God changes us so that what we thought would be wise or good and right might not really be.  

I have to remember that Satan strategizes to get me to draw a false conclusion about God, one such as:  ‘Oh, God doesn’t really care….He’s far too busy….you might as well give up…. you don’t want to be disappointed…..maybe you misunderstood the Bible….did God really say?’

Remember the persistent widow parable Jesus used as a teaching point? It’s a ‘how much more’ scenario.  Jesus emphasizes that indeed our loving and righteous Father will respond, unlike that unjust judge who just wanted to get that annoying woman off his back!

Friends, let us not grow weary in praying!  We have a good Father.

No more stuffing feelings; adventures await!

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Hi Friends

It’s freeing to be able to share with Jesus each messy feeling and perplexing situation that come to me. With no reserve, not filtering out any detail.  And it’s Biblical.

Here are 2 entries from this past week.  What pleasure God gives me, to write daily, but no more than 175 words.  I love the limit!

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December 10

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you, Psalm 55:22 NIV

…..casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you 1 Peter 5:7

Mike grabbed his lunch, headed to the garage. He admitted, “I’m fighting anxiety about this morning’s meeting we prayed about last night.”

Spotting Satan’s tactic I encouraged: “Mike, don’t fight the anxiety!  Cast it on Jesus!  Spit it out; tell Him all the details. Then listen for His words!”

Don’t we all tend to tamp down those thoughts of fear, worry envy, shame, anger….?  We have heard Satan’s lie enough times to believe it: If you were really a good Christian, you wouldn’t be feeling X, Y, Z!

That’s not true!  Remember the father’s confession to Jesus about his son’s healing?  ‘I DO believe, help my unbelief!

What relief when we confess all to our good Father.  Jesus knows Satan’s tactics, the slight twisting of the Word.  He understands the temptation to accept the lies.

His response?  Life-giving words of Love, not of fear and condemnation. Let’s train ourselves to recognize His voice and trust Him.

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December 12

You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35 NLT

Spanish renders blessed as: ‘bienaventurado’.

I LOVE this word!  Separating bien from aventurado, you get well, good followed by adventurous, exciting! (Maria’s unconventional musing.)

So, when you GIVE, a great adventure with Jesus follows.  It’s way more fun than receiving a gift.

But, how much do we give? To whom? When do we give? So many questions left unanswered. Especially to one like me who finds it harder to give of my time than money.  Is Jesus calling us to do as He advised the rich young ruler? Sell all our stuff and give the proceeds to the poor? Or, in my case, dedicate all my time to the service of others?

We don’t have to guess, for Paul helps us in Acts 22:10 when he modeled the way: What should I do, Lord?

Jesus invites us to check in with Him, always. What a relief!

And what other great adventures with Jesus await? We can always check back to the Sermon on the Mount where He describes other circumstances, sure to be thrilling.

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What about you?  What do you hear Him say when you’re honest?

Those infernal lies that seem like my thoughts

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Mike and I have been talking about the number of lies we entertain in our thoughts. We usually assume they are true. In fact, they innocuously blend in with our other ruminations in a way that makes us actually believe they ARE our thoughts (and therefore true!).

I’m an expert at detecting these lies in Mike. They are easy to spot should he happen to speak one out loud –  these inner verdicts on reality. (analyze THAT Latin word! verus =true, dictum = statement).

I now understand this satanic tactic, a favorite of the ‘father of lies’.  He tends to whisper or suggest ideas and conclusions that feel SO much like our own. We think we are the source of the thoughts. There’s no warning sign or danger alert that they might be from someone other than us.

Here’s my most current example. I was experiencing a difficult time with some 7th-grade boys last week. They were distracting French class.  I started fantasizing about how pleasant it would be to teach adults who CHOOSE to learn French (or English) with me. (first mistake – discontent followed by coveting. How?  by imagining something other than what God has given me).  Within a few hours I was thinking:

  • Maybe I’m too old to be teaching middle schoolers.
  • Maybe this should be my last year.

I actually articulated those thoughts and conclusions 3 different times over the weekend.

Result?  I slid into a sulky, grumpy mood by Monday morning.

But God!

I actually WROTE down in my journal, “Father – HELP me!  Give me fresh ways and ideas to deal with these kids. Help my un-desire.”

And to my surprise, within 5 minutes of recording that need, a memory from several years ago arrived ‘front and center’.  At that particular time, I had written a pastor friend, asking him to pray during a VERY painful early year at my current school.  He immediately wrote back to encourage me.

He had exhorted me to keep in mind that one or more of these kids I was teaching might one day become a missionary in a French-speaking part of the world.  All because I had persisted in teaching students French.

Through this very memory, God infused my being with strength!  The hope-giving reminder of why I must continue teaching French vacuumed away the discouragement in a flash.  “I MUST persist,” I concluded.

What followed next was even more powerful.  Suddenly I saw that my feelings and thoughts of no longer belonging in the classroom were not MY notions, but planted FALSE ideas by my enemy, the devil.

That realization grew as I saw more clearly just why this ‘liar from old’ would not want me equipping someone to speak French.  Someone who might one day explain to a French speaker just who Christ was and what He has done.

So, I am reminded, how blind we are when it comes to spotting lies – in ourselves.  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we must help each other by engaging with others. We should:

  • CONFIDE our discouragement with brothers and sisters in Christ and ask them to pray!
  • ASK MORE THAN surface questions when we see others; press a bit deeper when we detect anxiety or heaviness in someone’s face and voice. We can offer to listen and pray.

We don’t know how close someone might be to throwing in the towel.  Discouragement is a real life-drainer.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

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