Thank God for Unanswered Prayers was a huge number one country hit for Garth Brooks in the 1990’s. The entire basis for the song is the fact that we just don’t always know what is best for us, even in our prayers. Beyond that, it is also an indisputable fact that God always knows what is best. That is precisely Paul’s point in Romans 8.26 when he says, “For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought…” If we knew how to pray perfectly and we knew what to pray for, we would have much of the battle won. However, we are human! We do not know and when we do know, we don’t always do what we know; we fall short on the execution!
Since these things were true when Paul penned the Roman epistle, he specifically communicated the fact that the Spirit made intercession for the believers. They did not know what to pray for as they ought, hence help was needed. The help that was provided was without equal; the Spirit was identified as an intercessor whose work included the “perfecting of their prayers” and the communication of them to the Father. I admit openly that I don’t understand how that worked, but what else is new in the heavenly realm! There are a lot of things I don’t understand about the way things work in the realm of the Divine.
I don’t completely understand all the circumstances and actions that surrounded the fact that Jesus prayed for Peter so that his faith might not fail (see Luke 22.32). Didn’t God the Father know Peter? Didn’t He know that Peter’s faith was going to undergo severe trial? Did the Son have to inform the Father of these matters? Yet, in spite of God’ omniscience, the Son still saw fit to pray to the Father on Peter’s behalf! The case with Jesus and Peter seems to be somewhat similar, and maybe even parallel, to the fact that the Spirit became the intercessor for the Roman believers. Understand it? Absolutely not! But, I certainly believe it!
The prayers of the saints are a holy mystery which no man understands in the fullest sense. Yet, regardless of what we understand or fail to understand, there is indisputable evidence that God hears and responds to the prayers of the saints. This Divine response is not limited to the New Testament; there are scores of examples in the Old Testament where the course of history was altered as a result of righteous prayers ascending to the Father's ears. Likewise, the New Testament is replete with examples and affirmations as to the positive effects that prayer has upon the Father. In one of the more straightforward passages, James simply affirms, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5.16). The fact that this was written during the miraculous era does not alter the facts of the case; God changes the events of history in response to the prayers of the saints!
One of my amazingly wise professors used to say to his class of Bible students, “Men we need to learn to let God be God!” From knowing him personally, I know what he meant by that statement. The sage simply meant that we ought to realize our limitations while in the flesh; at the same time we ought to realize that the role that God plays in the affairs of this world is not subject to the same limitations. He is wiser, more powerful, purer, more righteous, and in every regard, above man! Therefore, we ought to let God be God; He doesn't need our help in executing His plans on the Divine side of the ledger, but it is for certain we need Him on this side! Let God be God!
1. Must I understand how or why God does a thing in order to believer it or profit from it? Name five things that God does for us that we do not understand how and/or why?
2. Why did Jesus pray for Peter?
3. Did Peter know at that moment what he needed to pray for? In fact, what affirmations did Peter make which demonstrated that he had no idea what was about to happen to him (see Luke 22.33?)
4. Why ought we be content to allow God to handle things on the Divine side of the ledger?
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