Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Away In a Manger (unanswered prayers)

Recently, there have been several important things (to me anyway) that I have been praying about, and it seems to me that they have all gone either unanswered by God and/or flat out rejected.

Through the years, I think my faith in the power of prayer has slowly but continually grown. I have heard many incredible stories about answered prayers and I have seen God answer some of mine as well. However, I have also encountered people and heard stories of God not answering prayers, some of them pretty dramatic and disappointing. Until recently though, I have been able to apply logic to their difficulties, saying or thinking "God has a plan. He did with Job, and David, and Paul while they were suffering. And He did with so many others. We're not deserving of God's blessings or attention to begin with, so we should simply be grateful for any prayers that He does answer or grant to us."

Well, now that I'm facing situations that I've been pretty concerned about, I have been fairly dedicated both to pray about them myself and to have others pray for me. I have also been trying to be more disciplined in spending time with God (see previous post). So aren't all of my efforts and prayers supposed to work, or at least help matters? I can list the reasons why answering these prayers would be beneficial to me, my family, and even my church. Why would God want me to waste my time, money, and efforts with these things? I would love to use my resources better, in ways that would seem to please God more, like by helping my neighbors with things, or by doing more at church. I just don't have the ability now with all of this other stuff going on.

Recently, when I was reading Lucas' baby Bible to him, I came across the Christmas story. Even though we have a nativity and our neighbor even has one lit up on his lawn across the street, for some reason looking at this picture (on the right) made me realize something different.

Mary and Joseph probably were praying very hard for their circumstances to improve. On the night of Jesus' birth they had been traveling over a very long journey, Mary was very pregnant, and they couldn't even find a place to sleep for the night. For some reason, for the first time I could picture them going from inn to inn, getting more and more frustrated, until agonizingly proclaiming "Come on God, we're carrying your son for crying out loud. Why won't you help us? Why won't you answer our prayers?!" But God had a plan, and perhaps unfortunately for Mary and Joseph, it didn't include a posh hotel with room service. But it's fortunate for us, because we have a setting at Christmas of our almighty God humbling himself. Not only to become human, but to start off life in a barn-type setting. Born amongst the hay and laid to rest in an animal trough. It's a scene that is unlike any other. It's oddly unique, beautiful, peaceful and poetic. The words and music to the song Silent Night just resonates in my mind when I gaze at or picture the nativity. God did have a plan, and I know that He does for me and my circumstances too.

1 comment:

karin said...

What a great post, Mike. Thanks for writing. I'm enjoying reading all your blogs! I've been missing out all this time.

My favorite book on prayer is called "Praying Backwards" by Bryan Chappell. I highly recommend it.

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