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A View from the Altar / Answered prayer means what?
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Answered prayer means what?

Luke 18 records Christ speaking at length on prayer.  He described a widow seeking to get a wicked judge to satisfy her vengeance on an enemy.  The judge cared little for either God or man, but to keep from being pestered by the widow, he granted her request.  Jesus then said, “Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:6-8)

In almost any evangelical or Catholic church, the minister could get people to talk about instances in which their prayers have been answered.  Many of these would include “remarkable providences,” happenstances so unlikely they stop just short of miraculous.  People cherish the memories of these events as evidence of the Lord working in their lives, and so they are.  Money is needed to meet a crisis, and a check arrives unexpectedly for the exact amount required.  A malignancy is diagnosed, but after prayer it is gone.  A person not seen in decades is needed for some reason, and after prayer the person calls saying he “felt led” to make contact.  On the stories would go, giving honor to God who, though he really is high and mighty, is still lovingly involved in the affairs of his people, hearing their prayers and delighting them by answering.

This is Christianity lived in the past perfect tense.  That’s good, but Jesus said that’s not good enough.  “When I return,” he asks, “will I find any faith on the earth?”  The life of faith is not content to do a heroic deed and then retire to relish the memory of it.  David didn’t stop when he slew the lion and the bear; Goliath was still there.  He didn’t stop when he slew Goliath, for the kingdom still needed to be established.  He didn’t stop when he had the kingdom, because the future was still there, and he saw the need to raise up his son through whom would come the Son.

When Christ thanked the Father for having heard his prayer (Jn 11:41), he did so with an eye toward what he was about to do, that is, raising Lazarus from the dead, then laying down his own life and taking it up again.  He wasn’t fixated on glories in the rear view mirror but on greater exploits yet to come.

This is our example.  We should thank God for answered prayer.  We should recall the great things he’s done for us, leading us by smoke in the day and flame by night, feeding us with manna and quail and quenching our thirst through bitter waters made sweet by the tree of life.  (Ex 15:23-25)  But all those experiences with the Lord should count for something going forward.  They should build a store of experience with God that trusts in him and follows him bravely into battles that are still ahead.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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