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A Praying Life, Chapter 21

Chapter 21: "Unanswered Prayer" | Week of July 29, 2018

“No unbelief made Abraham waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” – Romans 4:20–21


What happens when our prayers for relief, for blessing, or for comfort seem to go unanswered? This is the question of chapter 21 in A Praying Life. Paul Miller tells the story of praying to be kept from harm before their daughter is born, only for her to suffer multiple disabilities. He and his wife felt like they were wandering in the desert, and recognized, "It's very tempting to survive the desert by by taking the bread of bitterness offered by Satan." (Page 166)

We are tempted all the time to find our joy, comfort and peace in things that are not God. Therefore, "God takes everyone he loves through a desert. It's his cure for our wandering hearts.... He finally gets your attention because he's the only game in town." (Pages 166, 167).

The desert tests us, yes. However, it also shapes our prayer life in ways that normal, everyday life cannot. In the book of Exodus, after God delivers them from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites are faced with a choice. Will they be thankful for God's deliverance and presence, or will they grumble about being in a desert and doubt God will fulfill his promises? We face the same choice when God allows us to walk through a desert season. 


Pastor Sean preached on the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22. Jesus makes the amazing claim that the people who enter the kingdom of heaven are not the ones we might expect to be there, but instead are the ones who simply accept the open call to come inside and join the party. Everyone there knows they don't really belong except that the King wants them there. So here's a question: Are you focused more on the God who wants you to be in his presence, or are you grumbling about the heat and thirst in your desert experience?   


Paul Miller, referencing the apostle Paul's instruction to "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Col. 4:2), reminds us that "Thanksgiving helps us to be grace-centered, seeing all of life as a gift." (Page 169) Spend some time praying that God will help you focus on him with thanksgiving as you await his promises to be fulfilled, instead of being focused on the desert you might find yourself in right now.


Please pray for the church's many volunteers, who do so much to serve us. Pray specifically for encouragement for them, for grace to serve well, and for God to help them continue to grow in Christlikeness. We firmly believe that everyone called by Jesus also receives gifts from the Holy Spirit to serve the church, and we are thankful for them. Please express thanks to God in prayer this week for the many people who love and serve so well with the gifts he has given them.      


Talk to your kids about why it feels hard to wait. Why do they think they have a hard time doing so? Pray together for the Holy Spirit to grow your patience, knowing that God can be trusted to bless us as he promised.

Tags : prayer, devotional