๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ‘‘ The Answer To The Problem Of Unanswered Prayer

Let’s begin by looking at what the Lord Jesus told Paul about how prayer works today in the dispensation of grace:

โ€œLikewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

โ€œNow He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

โ€œAnd we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purposeโ€ (Rom. 8:26-28).

For those of us in the dispensation of grace, God never promises that He will give us everything that we ask. You can abundantly prove this by simply reading through the letters written by the Apostle Paul. He wrote thirteen letters, from Romans to Philemon, and we never read a prayer promise like โ€œWhatever you ask,โ€ or โ€œask what you desire.โ€ Instead we read that โ€œWe do not know what to pray for as we oughtโ€ (Rom. 8:26).

God has promised to โ€œwork all things together for goodโ€ in our lives, but He hasnโ€™t revealed HOW He is going to do that. He has promised it, and we take that by faith and believe that He is working all thingsโ€”even the โ€œtragediesโ€ of lifeโ€”together for good for us; but we often donโ€™t see it. But as Paul wrote, โ€œWe walk by faith and not by seeing.โ€

Since we donโ€™t know how God is going to work all things for good, we donโ€™t know exactly how to pray. How could God promise us that He will answer all our prayers, if He tells us up front that we donโ€™t even know what to pray for?

Paulโ€™s letters contain many testimonies of unanswered prayers. He knew how to pray in the dispensation of grace, and did not become discouraged his prayers remained unanswered. He believed that his Father in heaven had everything under control and was working all things together for his good. Furthermore, he gives us a great testimony of unanswered prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:

โ€œAnd lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

โ€œConcerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.

โ€œAnd He said to me, `My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.โ€™ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

โ€œTherefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christโ€™s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strongโ€ (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

We see in verse 7 that God allowed Paul to suffer with this โ€œthorn in the flesh,โ€ some physical suffering that came from Satan. And even though Paul pleaded repeatedly for the Lord to remove the problem, it was allowed to serve a good purpose in Paulโ€™s life. We know this because of the Lord’s reply to the prayers. He did not say, โ€œWhatever you ask youโ€™ll receive, if you have faith!โ€ No! Not at all. The Lord told Paul that His grace would be enough and that His power will bring spiritual strength in weakness.

It is common to want the Lord to just fix the problems. It is more important, however, that He wants to show the sufficiency of His grace, and the magnificence of His power working in our lives so that we can bear the fruit of an overcoming life that gives Him glory.

Paulโ€™s entire outlook suffering changed as a result of this prayer experience. He goes on to say that he learned to take โ€œpleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christโ€™s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.โ€

We must learn from the bible that it is not Godโ€™s will to take away all of our problems or to fix all of our weaknesses. Instead, it is Godโ€™s will that in all the circumstances, He will give us all the grace and strength that weโ€™ll need to โ€œpress toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesusโ€, โ€œwho shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himselfโ€ (Phil 3:14,21).

Next, look at how Paul prayed for the Colossian saints:

โ€œFor this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

โ€œThat ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;โ€ (Col. 1:9-10).

He then continued in prayer that these saints would be โ€œfilled with the knowledge of His willโ€ and the result would be that they would be โ€œstrengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy [powerful!]โ€ (Col. 1:11).

โ€œPatienceโ€ here speaks of endurance and perseverance in the face of lifeโ€™s circumstances, while โ€œlongsufferingโ€ speaks of having a โ€œlong fuseโ€ on our tempers when faced with unpleasant people and surroundings. And Paul instructs us to do this all with โ€œjoy.โ€ God doesnโ€™t promise to take away all our problems, or to answer all our prayers (remember, we donโ€™t even know what to ask for). Instead, He promises to give us the grace and strength that weโ€™ll need to overcome and to do it all with joy.

That is Godโ€™s picture of being โ€œstrengthened with all might according to His glorious power.โ€ That is real power, and the Lord Jesus says to us today, โ€œMy grace is sufficient for you wherever you are, and whatever your problems may be, Iโ€™m working it all together for good, and My power is being made perfect. It reaches its greatest expression and demonstration when you are weak, but miraculously, you find that by faith you are `strengthened with all might…for patience and longsuffering with joy.’โ€

Paul never forgot the lesson that the Lord taught him from his โ€œthorn prayer.โ€ Many years later and from a prison cell, Paul would write to the Philippians:

โ€œNot that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

โ€œI know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

โ€œI can do all things through Christ who strengthens meโ€ (Phil. 4:11-13).

Paul says that he has learned the secret of contentment, he knows how to abound [to have much], and also how to be abased [to have little]. So Paul writes that everywhere and in all things he has learned how to live, and how to live with joy. And the secret? โ€œI can do all things through Christ who [constantly, daily] strengthens me.โ€ We can almost hear those words from years before still ringing in Paulโ€™s heart, โ€œMy strength is made perfect in your weaknessโ€ as Paul writes, โ€œI can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.โ€

Conclusion

Should we pray today? Of course! Listen to Paul encouraging the saints to pray:

โ€œRejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for youโ€ (1 Thes. 5:16-18).

But we can only rejoice and give thanks always when we understand what the Lord is doing in the dispensation of grace and in our lives today. Godโ€™s people are destroyed when they are told that Godโ€™s plan is to fix all their problems. The Lord never said made this declaration to the Apostle Paul for us in the dispensation of grace. There can only come disappointment, discouragement, and spiritual ruin when we claim a promise that God never made to us [Replacement Theology]. But what joy and what freedom there is when we begin to learn to hear the Lordโ€™s promises for us today in this wonderful time called the โ€œdispensation of the grace of God!โ€

โ€œIf ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-wardโ€ (Eph 3:2)

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Bible Verse for 12/10/18

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; — Deuteronomy 18:15

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