Jesus made radical promises regarding prayer.
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. (Matthew 7:7)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
Jesus promised that his disciples could “ask whatever they wish” and God would make it so. Such bold promises challenge my observation of the church and the world. So many prayers seem to go unanswered or forgotten.
I am not talking about what I consider “childish” prayers, like winning the lottery or finding a parking spot at the shopping mall. I am thinking about those real prayers of the heart, when day-after-day you pray for the healing of a loved one. A friend is afflicted with cancer or an addiction, a spouse is battling depression or a child is traveling in the wrong crowd and we pray. We pray asking God to bring healing and peace to this person believing that this is God’s will for God’s people. Jesus certainly brought healing to those in need; healing and wholeness is what God desires for all of creation, especially his children.
Naturally if the person resists God’s healing, God will not force mercy. Often a person wrestling with addiction has to hit bottom before they can see how powerless they are in their addiction. God does not force healing.
Still many of us pray daily for God’s healing and we do not experience it. Oh, there are those occasions when miraculous healings occur. Thanks be to God! I have participated in prayer services where God’s power has restored the sick to health. Yet such answers seem almost arbitrary because others have not had the same prayers answered even when their faith was strong and their prayers persistent.
I do not know the answer to my own question, other than to look to Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed for his own cup of suffering to be taken away, yet the next day he walked to the cross and death. His prayer was real and deep. And though he did drink the cup, his prayers gave him the strength and power to walk to Golgotha . . . . and three days later, the empty tomb.
And that is what we each need: the strength and courage to walk the path God has given us. So, like Jesus, we pray, “your will be done.” The final answer to all prayers comes in Jesus’ resurrection and the promise of new life in him.
Lord Jesus, your will be done in my life.