Who is it that Answers your Prayers?
PRAYER 5 FOR UCB
3 min Script
Hello again, I do enjoy the time we spend together, and today, as I mentioned last time, we’re going to talk about the strange things that we get in terms of answers from God. I do wonder if we only think they are strange answers because sometimes we have a peculiar view about what God is like. I remember one guy at my theology college praying for hours asking God not to make him marry so and so because he didn’t like her. I don’t quite know where he got the idea that God wanted him to marry her anyway, but I do think he thought that God would only chose things for him that were hard or difficult or things that he wouldn’t normally like. A very strange view of God indeed, oh, and he never did marry her.
It is very strange how some of us view God and I guess how we view him colours the way that we expect him to answer prayer, and sometimes the colour of our perception is so strong that we can’t see clearly what he is doing and it blurs how we hear what God is saying to us. I am often surprised when people say what they think they have heard, even if it is something I have said. I know what I said, and I know what they are saying, and I know they have heard wrong. Has this happened to you when you are doing pastoral work and someone comes to thank you for something you said to them, saying that it really helped them, and you are sure you never said it, but hey, it helped anyway!
The colouring of our views is a very strong thing, or if you want to use a big word, our presuppositions. Those are the things that we have in us that make us come to the conclusions we come to, whether we realise it or not. Presuppositions make us expect things to occur in a certain way, a bit like when you have spoken to someone on the phone and have built up a picture in your mind of what they look like, and when you meet them they look nothing like the presupposition, and what a shock that can be. The thing is that we do that with God. And we do it when we pray; is that we have often presumed the right answer in our head, and often not only the right answer but even the method of delivery.
I have always loved the story of Naaman in the Old Testament, there are lots of things that can be seen in that story, and maybe one day we could go through it together. But for now lets just think about the part of the story where he finally gets to his right destination, the prophets front door, he knocks on the door and never actually gets to meet the prophet, only the servant, who tells him how to get well from his sickness. And if you know the story then you will know that at this point Naaman gets mad because he doesn’t like the method that is offered for him to get better. Actually what is happening is that his presuppositions are kicking in and it shows by his reaction, Naaman says, ‘this is not what I expected, I thought that the prophet would come out of his house, strike the place of my sickness and I would be healed!’ Where did he get that idea from? I wonder if he had been watching too much Christian television! Only joking!
So when we pray what are our expectations of the method of answer, what the answer will be and of what God is like? The thing I think we need to have in mind is that this is the God who said he wants to call us friends, not only friends but he wants to be our father, not only to be our father but to share with us the inheritance of his only begotten son Jesus, so what kind of answer would that kind of God give to us?
I think one of the most humbling things that God does to his children, his friends is to say things like, ‘what do you think?’ or ‘what would you like to do?’ I often want to reply to God when he says something like that to me, ‘God, it’s little me that you are talking to.’ Perhaps you think I am making up this idea, I’m not, remember what God said in Genesis, ‘this is what I plan to do but before I do it, let me go and ask my friend Abraham what he thinks.’ That is amazing, the king of kings, the creator God asking a mere human what he thinks! But then if we don’t have a presupposition of that kind of God then we will not, of course, expect that kind of reaction from God. When God speaks to us in that way we will be so surprised, so amazed that we will be totally sure that we have not heard from God but that we have made it up. That’s why I say, sometimes God’s answers are very strange.
When you think about it, particularly in the area of doing things that God wants, if you love God wouldn’t you want to do what he wants, and if you love him why should it be a surprise that when we ask him, ’what do you want me to do?’ He who loves us, and knows that we love him, should reply, ‘well now what would you like to do?’ For if your desires and actions are coming out of your love for him, I should think you will probably want to do what he wants anyway. And the more you know him the more you will get it right and the end result will be you will be pleased to do it and God will be pleased you did it. Isn’t that great!
Editor A. Brookes
Editor A. Brookes