Memo 1101: Answered Prayer
Let's continue to search for clues in David's life that will help us live an abundant life as we sit on the purpose throne God has given us. This week, let's start with Psalm 7, where David was crying out to the Lord because of a man named Cush who was trying to take David's life:
Arise, Lord, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around you, while you sit enthroned over them on high. Let the Lord judge the peoples. Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure—you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts (Psalm 7:6-9).
David prayed for vindication and for an end to the violence that was being waged against him. Did God answer his prayer? Let's see if we can find out if and how He did, but to do so, you'll have to read on.
David wasn't engaged in what I call ritual prayer. He wasn't putting in his dutiful prayer time like He was doing God a favor or giving God something that He needed. David was praying fervently and urgently because his life depended on it. God's purpose assigned to him depended on it. His family depended on it. David wasn't praying "now I lay me down to sleep" prayers nor was he praying according to some predetermined words or formula. He was crying out, "Help me, God, or I die." I would say David was supremely motivated to cry out and have God hear his prayer.
The good news for David (and for us) is that God not only heard him but answered as we read in Psalm 9:
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you. For you have upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as the righteous judge. You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name for ever and ever. Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies, you have uprooted their cities; even the memory of them has perished (Psalm 9:1-6).
David understood that prayer is a two-way street: David would pray one way and God would return the other way with an answer. That's a simple formula that we need to follow and expect. Our job isn't just to pray; our job is to get answers to prayer.
Jesus made a startling, radical promise in John's gospel. First he said,
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:12-14).
Taken by themselves, those verses seem to promise God will grant any request a believer makes, but of course, that's not the case as James explained: "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3). The context for what Jesus said is the believer bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God and is repeated for emphasis in the next chapter: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other" (John 15:16-17).
Simply put, this means that God will give you whatever you need to fulfill your purpose and bear fruit, but you have to be clear as to what you need, ask in faith, and then give thanks—with love for others as your motivation. Therefore, your PowerPoint for Living is
God wants you to fulfill your purpose and will provide what you need to do so. Your job then isn't just to pray but to get answers to prayer so you can bear fruit.
Are you? Are you praying, that is, and seeing answers? Are you holding yourself accountable not only to put in the time in prayer but also to track your prayer request progress? Can you report answers to prayers that assisted you in fulfilling your purpose and expressing your creativity? God is listening to you when you pray. Don't waste those moments in that divine connection on meaningless, frivolous requests, but put before God what you need to get His work done. If you want to do great things, you have to learn to ask God for great things. As you do, watch for His answers according to the promise that Jesus made for any and all who believe in Him and desire to bear fruit. Have a blessed week!