To my great surprise, I have had some answered prayer this week- a person came forward at just the right moment, another person was really encouraging, and a family member had a positive medical appointment. I am deeply humbled at some really lovely outcomes.
It made me realise however, sometimes when I pray, I just don’t know what to expect. I know that I pray to the King of all the universe, and that God delights in hearing his children. I know that God is good and loving, that He loves justice and is merciful. I know that nothing is impossible for God.
And yet my experience is that sometimes when I have prayed desperately for some one to be healed, or for a particular direction in my life, it has not worked out. Maybe healing for some one, is sometimes the healing that is in death- no more crying or pain. Sometimes too, in retrospect for some prayers, I am glad that God did not bring them to pass, for I was in danger of going in the wrong direction.
Yet it is so hard. There is so much mystery in prayer, so much that we don’t understand. It can really hurt, when what we prayed for seemed so reasonable. I was rereading some of Philip Yancey’s book ‘ Prayer’ and on page 239 he reminds his readers of Paul’s words ‘now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then ( in God’s nearer presence) we shall see face to face.’ 1 Corinthians 13: 12
We are so conscious that we only understand things in part. There is so much that makes no sense. The book of Job articulates this theme so well, when Job faces so many disasters in his life, but somehow can still say ‘ I know that my Redeemer lives’ Job 19:25. He trusted even when he didn’t understand.
This is my prayer for all of us today, that whatever our situation, whatever our story and our struggles, that we still able to trust God, to know that His love for us is unchanging, even when He seems far away. God is faithful, even when we doubt, and He is loving and forgiving, even when we cannot feel it. In the middle of doubt, questioning, and even anger, may we know that God never gives up on us, and always offers us a way back to Him.
Gracious and Loving God, we are so thankful for your perfect nature, Your goodness, and mercy and grace. We thankyou for your love in Jesus Christ, supplying all our needs. At times You answer our prayers in ways we recognise, and we are so grateful. At other times we are hurt and bewildered at how life turns out, and in danger of becoming bitter. Holy spirit, cleanse us of anger and resentment, and restore out faith in You. Even in the mystery of our prayer lives, speak to us of Your constancy and faithfulness, and enable us to trust, even when we do not understand, and even to find peace, Amen.