Dealing with Hurt and Unanswered Prayer - Part Three - Great Examples of the Bible

Unanswered prayers never leave us the same; we either grow deeper in our walk with the Lord or we turn our back on Him.  Inevitably, hurt changes us.  We can’t control whether we will get hurt in this life, but we can control how we respond.  What we need to do is commit ourselves to drawing closer to God no matter what happens in life. 

The only way we can be the people God wants us to be is if we are praying people; the only way we can be the church God wants us to be is if we are a praying church.  So sign up and jumpstart your prayer life as you join in on jumpstarting our church’s prayer life. 

To encourage us to move from disappointment over unanswered prayers to a life of faith, I want to share some of the great stories of answered prayers from Scripture.  We have the tendency to view Scripture as a story of exceptions, but what if, instead of a Book with exceptional stories, the Bible tells stories that are fairly normal of life with our exceptional God.  These answered prayers are a glimpse of the Christian life we were designed to experience.

In the book of Esther, we read the story of Haman who persuaded the king of Persia to kill all of the Jews.  Esther, a Jew who was one of the queens of Persia, was called to appear infrequently with her king. In order to appear without being summoned, she would have to risk her life.  But if she didn’t risk her life to persuade her king to stop the killing of the Jews, she and all of her people would die. 

Esther then proclaims:
“Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Esth 4:16 (ESV)

The story ends with God answering the prayers of the Jewish people.  The law to kill the Jews is superceded by another law and Haman is hung on the gallows he had built for the Jews.  A prayer answered that seemed to do the impossible.

Then we read the story of Nehemiah, who hears of the destruction of Jerusalem’s walls and the sorry state of his homeland, while serving as the cupbearer to the king of Persia.  Nehemiah then began to fast and pray for the restoration of Jerusalem.  God heard these prayers and used Nehemiah to restore Jerusalem.  Another prayer answered that seemed to do the impossible.

And the last story is another one of my favorites.  I love these stories of answered prayer. 

After being ordered by the government to no longer preach the gospel of Jesus, the Apostles continued.  For like the people before them – like Esther, like Nehemiah, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and the other faithful people throughout history – their lives were secondary to the mission God had laid on their hearts.  The Apostle James was arrested and then killed.  Peter was subsequently arrested, “but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.”  Acts 12:5 (ESV)  And then through a miraculous intercession of angels, Peter was freed.  Another prayer answered that seemed to be impossible.
Are we people who fast and pray together in crisis?  Are we people who start our attempt at the impossible with prayer?  Are we people whose prayer lives show that we trust wholly in God.

I’m going to be dangerously honest today and point out that the emperor has no clothes.  We are not that sort of people.  The church has pockets of prayer and vibrancy, but as a whole, we are lacking.  We are not people who pray together in crisis.  We are not people who try to do the impossible, let alone start it with prayer.  We are not people who trust wholly in God.  I see it in our fruit. 

But we can be.  With God on our side, we can be who He wants us to be.  We need to unleash God from being a person that we mainly pray about health problems to; we need to seek him, ask him, and knock on his door to bring about the life He wants us to live here and now.  Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.  We need to not avoid praying for things we feel are impossible.  We need to not settle for disappointments and unanswered prayers, although those will come.  Instead, we need to always strive for what He wants and petition Him to help us bring it about. 

So when it comes down to our prayer lives, we can either let our lives be defined by the unanswered prayers we have experienced, or we can let the Word of God and the great stories of the trailblazers of our faith define our prayer life.  We should have confidence when we petition God on his throne of grace because we are covered in the blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit.  We are in the asking business.  God is in the answering business.  May we be bold enough to ask what is on our hearts, no matter how impossible it might seem.