Spring 1990 – Vol.6 – No.1
“Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”
One aspect of prayer that tests our maturity is the frequent lack of immediate gratification. So often we must wait weeks or months, and sometimes even years, to see the results of specific requests.
Did not Christ Himself have this in view when He emphasized that we ought always to pray and not to lose heart? Yet because of these delays, there are times when the answers come and we fail to take note of them. It may have been weeks since they were in our prayers. Only when we happen across an outdated prayer list are we struck with the faithfulness of God in answering so many petitions we had forgotten.
The results of prayer have other ways of slipping up on us. What seemed totally improbable at the time of our first request is a little more likely the next day, more so on the next, and so it goes until the thing is actually done. But by the time it occurs, it hardly seems remarkable at all and we have begun to think our own hard work more than prayer has accomplished it. Yet when we realize God as a rule works within the fabric of “normal” cause and effect, it seems natural that His answers should unfold by degrees as He gradually weaves them into His great tapestry.
Even when we experience immediate answers to the spontaneous prayers that fly from our lips in the course of daily activity, we often fail to take much note of it. The event gets buried in the blur of everything else that is occurring, and aside from a grateful sigh of relief that that is taken care of, we hasten on and do not reflect much on it.
We always spend less time thanking God for His help than we do asking for it. It is hardly surprising then that we are more conscious of the many requests still pending than we are of those which have already been granted. And so we unwittingly diminish one of the great incentives to prayer, namely the clear realization that God does hear, and does respond.
Over the past four and a half years, many prayer requests have appeared in the Evangel. But in accordance with the above tendency, God’s answers have not always received as much space as the requests. Looking through back issues it is amazing to behold how God has again and again heard and granted our requests, including some which seemed most improbable. The following information is shared with you, that as the petitions of many have ascended before His throne, so also manifold praise may now be offered to His name!
In the sixteen Evangels a total of 34 prayer requests have appeared, usually more than once. Of these, seven pertained to guidance at various stages along the way. We naturally assume God has heard and answered these requests. We would believe this whether the final outcome seemed favorable to us or not. However, the fact that we are still “on track” rather than in the ditch supports our conviction.
The results of five more requests can never be known. Either there is no clear way to measure them (e.g. spiritual maturity, growth in grace), or the information we need is lacking (e.g. God’s protection of pastors in Mozambique as they travel through dangerous war zones to nurture their scattered churches).
Three requests pertain to events still future – the safe passage of our container to Nampula, an African pastor with whom to work, and another family to join us in Mozambique.
This leaves nineteen specific requests which can be objectively evaluated. Of these, seventeen have been answered! Only two have not been granted in the providence of God – that He would bring an end to the war and the suffering it causes, and that He would end the famine, which today is due more to the effects of war than drought.
And so we return to the question posed in the headline of this article. Does God hear? Indeed He does, and how encouraging it is to pause and note His wonderful faithfulness. Truly it is a gracious God who rules the stars and receives the worship of angels, yet stoops to the cry of frail creatures of dust. May He receive from us the awe, the praise, and the thanks, due His name.
The three requests mentioned three paragraphs above were all subsequently answered. The container arrived and nothing was damaged or stolen. Arnaldo Aquiles, the Muslim nurse introduced to me my first day at the hospital was saved, grew dramatically in the Lord, and became our national church leader! And we were finally joined by the Chiorinos in 2001.
The two requests mentioned two paragraphs from the end were also subsequently granted. The famine ended one year later after seven years duration. The civil war ended two years later, after 17 years duration.
That results in a positive response to 22 of 22 prayer requests listed in the Evangel from 1985 to 1990. Truly God inspires and answers the prayers of His children!