Romans 11:33-36 explains a lot about answered prayers.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Some of us want better answers than we are getting to our heartfelt prayers! We wonder—Is God listening at all? It appears that I am getting the exact opposite of which I prayed.
God’s answers often don’t make sense to our finite minds and Romans explains why. This is good. I mean it. When you get disappointing news despite all your reading scripture, obeying God’s ways, asking in prayer and asking others to pray, it is good. Why? Because God is good. There are always good and hard lessons to learn on our journey to God. Some make sense in time, others will leave us wondering until eternity.
Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is the best example.
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will (Matthew 26, prayed three times).”
Have you prayed until your sweat intermixed with blood? Luke’s gospel tells us Jesus prayed so intensely that He sweat blood. I would say that is some kind of strenuous praying. No one has ever deserved a positive answer to His prayer more than Jesus. He was sinless, after all. He was God. He understood God’s ways in a way that is absolutely impossible for our finite minds. It was because of who He knew God to be that He even presented His request. He knew that willingness to go to the cross was important but He also conceived that it might be God’s will that He did not have to go to such lengths. He knew that it had happened with Abraham when God asked him to kill his own son Isaac. God saw Abraham’s willingness and gave him another way. Above all Jesus knew that God’s ways are best. God’s way is best even when it means being abandoned, betrayed, denied, arrested, beat, unjustly tried, scourged, and ultimately hung up on a cross to die a criminal’s death. If it was God’s will, then it was the best way to go about saving the world.
God is the architect, designer and creator of this world. He alone knows what answer our prayers truly need. As we get to know Him through His creation, our belief in His Son, reading His Word and through prayer, we come to believe that He alone knows what is best. We know that all things are indeed from Him and through Him and for Him.
Praying and asking and wrestling with God bring us to the same conclusion as Jesus. Even if God asks the impossible of us, we will trust and believe in His goodness!