If God loves us so much, why doesn’t He answer every prayer?
Why doesn’t everyone who prays for healing get healed?
Why do some prayers get answered when others don’t?
I’ve waited to write this post because I’ve been waiting on the Lord to help me understand completely. I could articulate in my own words how I felt about these questions, but it wasn’t until yesterday that the Lord really spoke to me and showed me in His Word how He feels.
So, my prayer in sharing these very deep, raw thoughts with you, is that in some way it will help you if you are currently praying for God to do something in your life. Or, if you are dealing with the aftermath of an unanswered prayer.
From the minute Clay was diagnosed with Glioblastoma and the doctors in Baton Rouge told us they couldn’t help us, God has given both of us the same thoughts. It’s kind of strange, because you would think that the first thing we would pray would be a plea for healing.
But, it wasn’t.
The first thing we both prayed was “God, be glorified in our lives and in our situation. No matter what happens, just receive your glory.” Don’t you dare think to yourself that there is anything special about us. That was God. Not Clay. Not Kristy. It was God. It was very supernatural.
And, I’ll tell you that I will never forget it.
I will never forget that, just hours after the doctor said, “You have about 4 months to live,” our hospital room was filled with 20 people and the Holy Spirit came over me and prayed through me like never before. It was truly supernatural. And that prayer was not a prayer for healing.
God was speaking to me about what He was doing. The prayer was for our faith to remain strong. For us to be steadfast. For us to trust God no matter what. For God to give us endurance. I rebuked Satan and his attempt to destroy our faith and prayed that God would not allow him to take one single thing from us or our testimony. The prayer was for God to keep us from sin, and pride, and anything that would separate us from Him during this time.
I honestly can’t remember if I even asked God to heal Clay. I think I remember telling God that I believe He can…with all my heart. That our hope is sure and we know He is able. But, our desire is for His will to be done.
How does this happen? Because God truly prepared us for that moment. For years leading up to that day, God was preparing us. He was teaching us lessons that we didn’t understand until that moment. It all became crystal clear. And, because the preparation was done, He just lived through us and did everything. We didn’t even have to think. God literally did everything.
Why is this important?
Because we all have needs that we are asking God to meet. We all have desires that we are praying for God to fulfill. But, what happens to our faith when He doesn’t answer the way we want? How can we keep ourselves from becoming angry at Him for not doing it the way we thought He should?
Don’t put God in a box.
That is the answer. Don’t allow yourself to put God in a box. Don’t set God up for failure by telling Him what He should do. Submit yourself to Him and His will. And let Him decide what is best.
I’ve told you before about what the Lord showed me from Job while I was teaching the Ladies’ Retreat for our church just a few days before Clay got diagnosed.
We think of Job as a hero. As a righteous man who endured tremendous suffering and never cursed God. And, those things are true. Job withstood a greater test than any of us have ever known. God offered Him to be tested and Satan came in full force. Through it all, Job never cursed God. He never turned against God.
But….God had to humble Job. Because he was righteous, and because he had always done what was right, he was filled with pride. As he sits on his heap of ashes, in a total state of mourning, he is basically demanding an audience with God. He is yelling to God to come and show Himself so Job can plead his case. It’s as if he’s saying, “God, come here and show yourself to me so I can tell you just how righteous I’ve been.”
So, guess what? God answers him and shows up. He comes in a whirlwind. Oh my goodness. Can you imagine??? Sitting on a heap of ashes, in a field, and God showing up in a whirlwind. And, by the way, showing up because you yelled up at the heavens and basically demanded that He come? I can not even imagine what Job’s face must have looked like.
Then, God says, “Brace yourself.” Whoa. I never want to hear God say those words. And, God proceeds to prove to Job just how powerful He is. He says, “Where were you when I formed the earth?” I mean, what else does He have to say?? But, He goes on…and on….and on….and Job just has to listen as God tells him all the great and wonderful things He has done.
What is the point? The point is that Job endured what God allowed Satan to do to him to test him. He believed God to the very end. But, God had to show up in order to humble Job. And, in His mercy, He did show up. He humbled Job. And, then He was able to bless him and restore everything that was taken away.
I do not want to be filled with pride. No matter what happens to me. No matter what Satan does to test me. I don’t ever want to be filled with enough pride that I would demand an audience with God to plead my case. I want to have a heart that is humble and trusts God’s plan for my life, no matter what.
Where was I when He formed the earth? Nowhere. I was nowhere. I was nothing. He is everything. He is the creator.
He is the Alpha and Omega.
The Beginning and the End.
That means that He has already seen the end. He is the End. So, wouldn’t that mean that He knows what needs to happen to get us there?
Let’s say that God had come to Job and said, “Job, I want to allow Satan to tempt you and he is going to take everything away from you and you will end up covered in boils on a heap of ashes. Is that ok with you?” What do you think Job would have said? I don’t know. But, based on the way he demanded the opportunity to plead his case with God, I would imagine he would have asked God to consider another alternative for his life.
But, what if God wouldn’t have allowed Job’s situation to happen? Do you know how much information is gleaned from the book of Job? Do you know how many lives have been impacted and changed because of Job’s story? Think of the impact Job’s story had on the history of the world.
So, if God would have come to Job and said, “Job, you are going to be one of the most famous people to ever live on earth. I am going to use your life to display my greatness, reveal secrets to mankind, and change lives. Men will still be talking about you thousands of years from now. You will endure some hardships for a short time, but in the end you will have 7 times what you have now. Is that ok with you?”
What would Job have said to that? I don’t know, but I think he probably would have said, “Yes.” I would hope he would say yes. I would hope that I could say yes.
Isn’t that really what He did? God allowed some hardship for a short time, but in the end, God’s power was revealed, His majesty was displayed, lives have been changed, and Job is one of the most famous men to ever live. God is using his story thousands of years later.
God sees what we can not see. He knew…when Satan came to Him and thought he was so smart…God knew the end of the story. Satan didn’t. But, God did. He even knew that I would be typing this blog about Job and that the story of Job would be speaking to me in 2016 about my current situation. He knew all that.
Thank goodness He doesn’t always give us a choice, because Job may have said no. And, then where would we be? We wouldn’t have his testimony to help us today.
We have to trust God that everything He is doing is for a reason and that the purpose will be revealed when we are with Him in Heaven. And, we have to realize that our lives are but a vapor. Everything that happens on earth is affecting eternity. Our lives are not about what we see, they are about what we can’t see.
So, where is the line between a strong faith that will stand firm and believe God for a miracle, and a heart that trusts and believes God to do whatever He wants?
I have struggled with this question more than any other thing since May 2. I am so afraid that I will just accept the diagnosis and let Clay die, rather than standing on the Word of God and having a faith that is strong enough to pray for His healing and persuade God to do it.
But, I don’t want to step out and claim something that God isn’t telling me to do. I want His will to be done.
Our Pastor, Lee Shipp, showed us something really remarkable. Do you know the story of Hezekiah? He was a king of Israel. Isaiah comes to him one day and tells him that God has spoken. Hezekiah is sick and about to die. Isaiah tells him to get his affairs in order. Then, Hezekiah falls on his face and prays. He pleads with God to save his life. He reminds God that he has been a righteous king and has always tried to do what was pleasing to God.
So, God changes His mind and spares Hezekiah’s life.
Now, I have read this story a lot. I have even taught about this story and how we need to have the kind of prayer life that can affect God. I’ve contemplated what I would need to do in order to have such a strong prayer life that I could actually change God’s mind.
But, look what happens. The story is told in both II Kings 20 and II Chronicles 32. You have to read in both places to get the full picture. This is the real point….
II Chronicles 32: 24-25, “About that time, Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. But, Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem.”
Rather than respond with love and thankfulness, God healed the man and he grew proud in his heart. And, because of his response, he caused the anger of God to burn against all of Israel, including his own family. If you keep reading, you will see that his sons became corrupt and were evil. All of this evil happened because he didn’t submit to God’s will.
What would have happened if Hezekiah would have just gotten his affairs in order and allowed God to carry out His plan? Maybe God could have blessed Israel. Maybe his sons would have been righteous kings. Maybe.
We’ll never know. But this we can know. We would never want to do that. Right? I would never want to ask God to change His mind and allow me more time on this earth, if it meant that my heart wouldn’t be right and it would cause curses and pain to others.
Please don’t think I am saying that Clay wouldn’t respond correctly to a healing. I trust the work God has done in his life and I do not believe that he would respond that way. However, even Clay would tell you that he would never want to stay here on earth if God wanted to take him home. If there is something that God needs to accomplish through Clay’s death, then Clay is submitted to that. Hezekiah’s story is an illustration. God is telling us to trust His plan. He is saying that we should be willing to submit to His plan, no matter the cost.
Then, why wouldn’t we just always pray, “God, let your will be done.” Why would we ever ask for a specific outcome? Where does the prayer of faith come in?
This is what God showed me yesterday while I was reading on the beach. John 15 is a very famous passage of scripture. Jesus says that He is the vine and we are the branches. He tells us to abide in Him. You know it. If you don’t, stop and read verses 1 – 10.
Verse 7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my ‘words’ abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done until you.”
Ok. Sounds easy enough, right? Abide in Him. Let His Word abide in you. Ask and He’ll do it.
In the original text, the word used here for ‘words’ is “rhema.” It means that His Rhema Word must abide in you in order for you to ask what you will and have it done unto you. The translation for “rhema” is “That which is uttered by the living voice, a thing spoken.” A rhema word from God is an inspired thought or interpretation of scripture in which the Holy Spirit speaks a specific, timely word to a person.
This means that as we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit can use the words of the Bible to speak to us regarding specific situations in our present lives. This happens all the time. You read a scripture you’ve read hundreds of times before, but suddenly one day, it takes on a whole new meaning. Or, the Holy Spirit reveals a truth to you that you’ve never seen before.
So that scripture (John 15:7) is referring to His Rhema Word. Not just the Bible. The inspired interpretation of the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit for your current situation. It is a living, spoken Word from God.
I think we put God in a box by reading the Bible and claiming certain scriptures for our lives, without those scriptures being inspired by the Holy Spirit for our circumstance. You can find a scripture to back up almost anything you want to believe. The question we have to answer is “What is God trying to accomplish in my present circumstance?”
That’s why we need the Rhema Word. We need the Holy Spirit to speak to us and reveal God’s plan so that we know how to pray. Then, when we abide in Him, and His Rhema Word abides in us, we will ask Him to do what He has revealed as His will and He will do it.
This is not God’s way of telling us that we can have whatever we want.
He is saying that if we abide in Him and seek His Rhema Word, then our prayers will align with His will and it will be done.
I have been praying, since May 2, for God to reveal His will for our circumstance. My greatest desire is for His will to be done, but I want to know what His will is, so I know how to pray. If He tells me that He wants to heal Clay, then I will have the faith and confidence to stand and believe Him to do it. But, He hasn’t told me that. I believe that He can….with all my heart. I have no doubt.
I remember one night at our prayer meeting at church. We were preparing to leave for our first trip to MD Anderson. We had no idea what was waiting for us there. Our church family was so shaken by our diagnosis and God had really caused them to pray so hard for us. We were in the altar, completely surrounded by people. There were so many tears and so many people crying out to God on our behalf. I remember feeling like I was literally floating because the prayers were so strong.
I was on the floor kneeling in front of Clay and holding his hands. When we finished praying, I looked at him with an anticipation. I wondered if I would look and see that God had healed him right there. I mean, there’s no way we could have prayed any harder. But, I knew in my spirit that it wasn’t done. I looked in his eyes and I knew there was no change. He wasn’t healed. In my spirit, I was hurting for all these sweet, Godly people that God had surrounded us with. I was scared that their faith would be damaged. They were believing God so much and begging Him to do this miracle and I knew that Satan would try his best to damage their faith.
Just as I was thinking these thoughts, our Pastor walked to the microphone and spent 10 minutes warning the entire church, in love, to guard our hearts. Although we have faith and believe that God can do this, we must be careful not to put Him in a box and only believe Him if He does what we ask. We must trust that His will is best. I wouldn’t have known how to say what my Pastor said. But, he knew. And, he said it with such wisdom and love. He squashed anything Satan could have tried to do that night.
This is why our blog slogan is “Live or Die, we will praise you!” Because we just want God’s will and we trust that He will do what is best.
I know this was long, but each thought was needed in order to make the point of what God has been saying to me. I pray that it helps you if you are currently asking Him for a miracle. Or, if you are dealing with the fact that He hasn’t answered your prayers.
Trust Him. Ask Him to reveal His will so you will know how to pray. Ask Him for a Rhema Word, so you will know what He wants to do. Don’t put Him in a box with your expectations.
Believe that He is able, no matter what your current circumstance shows. Just believe Him.
And, remember….He sees what we can not see. Let His will be done. Amen.