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Tuesday
Jul242007

The Awesome Responsibility of Answered Prayer

prayer.jpg A number of years ago, someone took a survey among churchgoers to find out what subject they most wanted to hear their pastors preach. Prayer emerged as the number one response. My guess is that little has changed. Deep within the heart of every child of God, a voice still cries out to learn more about prayer. “Teach us to pray,” the disciples asked. Now, a spate of books, pamphlets, Bible studies and sermons seek to satisfy that desire. Churches have more prayer meetings and prayer programs than ever. Prayer chains, prayer seminars, prayer partners, prayer journals and prayer journeys grow in popularity. Our World Network of Prayer can mobilize thousands of prayer warriors within minutes.

Isn’t it ironic that, with all our teaching on prayer, one of our greatest concerns continues to be why God doesn’t answer some of our prayers? We wonder if it is because of sin or disobedience in our lives. We often agonize over our seeming lack of faith. I am convinced, however, that God answers far more of our prayers than we realize He does. We tend to forget the vast numbers of prayers we have prayed for health, strength, safety, blessing and guidance. Who knows what untold tragedies have unwittingly slipped past us, simply because we prayed. Moreover, all of us have encountered major needs—-disease, injury, marital problems, financial disasters, Satanic attacks—-and have witnessed God’s power coming through for us when we needed it the most.

Yes, God answers prayer. But the significant truth to observe is this: When God answers prayer, He places on us an awesome responsibility! In effect, He says to us, “Now that I have answered your prayer, what difference will this make in your life and your relationship to me?”

Answered prayer asks us for reciprocating sacrifice. Look at the example of Hannah. “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD.” I Samuel 1:26-28. Hannah wanted a son, but God wanted a prophet. Samuel’s tremendous influence on the history of Israel hinged on two things: God answered prayer and Hannah responded.

Answered prayer demands that we follow through with the will of God. Elijah prayed a simple, powerful prayer when He challenged the prophets of Baal. The fire fell and consumed the bullock, the altar and the water. But the answer was not for a show. It demanded a response. “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” I Kings 18:39 -40. Difficult though it may have been, Elijah made the Israelites slay the prophets of Baal after the fire fell on the sacrifice.

Answered prayer calls upon us for greater faith and trust in God. Gideon’s fleece was not a set-up for God, but for Gideon. The first time Gideon prayed, the fleece was wet with dew but the ground was dry. Nervous about the answer, Gideon prayed again. “And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” Judges 6:38-40. The next verse finds Gideon rising up early to fight against the Midianites. He knew that when the answer came through, it was time to move.

What prayers have God answered for you lately? Have you been granted salvation, a reunited marriage, a restored family, a miraculous healing, financial blessing or an anointed ministry? Have you seen impossible situations work out? Have you seen revival and the fruit of your labors? Whatever God has done for you, mark it down—-He has done it for a reason. The tandem of answered prayer and a right response fulfills the purposes of God. Once the answer to our prayer comes through, the responsibility shifts over to our shoulders. Let us carry it well.

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