Tuesday, June 12, 2007

GOD on Mute Part 5

In chapter 7 Greig expounds on 5 answers to the question of “Why Unanswered Prayer?”
Here are they broken down for you….what are your thoughts and responses?

#1 Common Sense
Some prayers aren’t answered because they are just plain stupid.

#2 Contradiction
Some prayers aren’t answered because they contradict other prayers.

#3 The Laws of Nature
Some prayers aren’t answered because they would be detrimental to the world and
the lives of others.

#4 Life is Tough
Some Prayers aren’t answered because creation is “subject to frustration” and has
not yet been fully “liberated from its bondage to decay” (Romans 8:20-21).
Tragically, life in such an environment is inevitably going to be acutely difficult
at times.

#5 Doctrine
Some prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be because our
understanding and expectations of God are wrong.


The Space Between said...

that's hard, trying to pin point an answer to why we didn't get an answer. Is prayer really only broken down into what's answered, and what's not answered?

Prayer is communion with God - and I guess, a dialogue too. Sometimes I find it hard to actually hear God speak to me. I say a lot of things to Him, sometimes not really asking for an "answer"... Sometimes just the act of dumping all my thoughts and worries and concerns and praises on Him makes me feel that much closer to Him, and hopefully that much more involved in His will for my life.

Lately, I've put "looking for an answer" on the back burner. I don't want to get discouraged with prayer because I can't figure out why He didn't answer. I don't want that questioning to deter me from continuing to pray. As long as there is silence, I keep persevering - not asking why there is silence - but trusting that He is listening and securing me even more into His will. Maybe when there's an absence of answers, He's just subtely guiding me in other areas where I'm not expecting definite answers from Him.

Anonymous said...

#5 Doctrine,
"Some prayer's are not answered because the way we think they should be because of our understanding and expectations of God are wrong."

So true, Prayer is not telling God your problem. I'm learning to stop my complaining to him, because my Father already knows what things I need way before I even ask him or complain to him about.

Telling God your problem over and over and over again, is complaining. Complaining hasn't worked for me, this was my understand and expectation that if I complain to God he will answer. Or if I have a need he should answer. My need is not what moves God to answer prayer, but FAITH. Or my repetitions won't help, but when I have faith, my prayer's are answered.

When YOU know what God will do, He will do it. (1 John 5:15).

Below is what has become part of my life before I go to our Father in Prayer.

"God is not the one who determines the outcome of your prayer request, YOU determine whether or not you recieve."

Don't ever pray for anything you can't believe, it will destroy your faith. Go to his Word. Whatever it is - physical, finances, healing of the body. Study to find out what God says about it. Determine God's will concerning the matter from His Word. When you find it, accurately form you prayer from his word(speak it out. Then speak to your Father if it is according to His Word, in faith believing you recieve when you pray.

novice said...

I agree that it's not about repetition, but Jesus certainly had something to say about persistence:

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. "There was a judge in a certain city," he said, "who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. 'I fear neither God nor man,' he said to himself, 'but this woman is driving me crazy. I'm going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'" Then the Lord said, "Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don't you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?" (Luke 18, 1-8)

As for this - "God is not the one who determines the outcome of your prayer request, YOU determine whether or not you recieve."

I think I understand where you're going with that, but as far as that statement goes in and of itself, I could not disagree more. I've seen that kind of a maxim used too often to dismiss real suffering as "he/she just doesn't have enough faith" to ever accept it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if the statement seemed in and of itself, but if I've prayed in Faith believing that God will heal me then in Jesus name he will! And I will recieve it.

It's something the Holy Spirit has spoken in my life in times of real suffering. Times when I questioned, why wasn't I being healed or restored. It wasn't meant to be spoken as a kind of maxim to dismiss real suffering.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up. James 5:15.

The bible also says, Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. If I hear myself speaking and proclaiming God's Word, it get's into my spirit more quickly than if I don't proclaim his words from my mouth.

I just wonder then, am I to dismiss his words? and not recieve his healing in faith and proclaiming his promises in his word?

Misty B said...

#4 Life is tough - Although I do agree that life is sometimes tough I don't know if this is a good reason to give for prayer not being (affirmatively) answered. Doesn't it make God seem kind of distant and uncaring? I read this post several days ago and it still bugs me!

novice said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the reply. You raise some really good scriptures and I'd love to discuss those with you.

Before getting into that, though, I wonder if you could clarify your position for me by touching on points 1-4 from Greig's book? How does your stand on #5 affect the other 4?

For myself, I found the list good but not totally satisfying somehow. Each one of them rings true (although I'm inclined to agree with Misty for #4 - I want to ask "but why?") but it almost seems too formulaic, too easy. Or maybe I'm looking too hard for some great cosmic answer to tie it all together.

Each of the points on Greig's list to me points to a wisdom greater than my own. They point to a God who understands and sees the whole picture in a way we cannot, no matter how spiritual we are, and will answer prayers in ways that fit with His plan.

Sometimes this frustrates me - I wonder why I bother praying if God's just going to do His own thing anyway. Passages like the one from Luke that I quoted above suggest God wants us to be persistent even then, but that can be pretty tough going.

At least, as I see it, I know that it is God's wisdom because he understands things we cannot possibly see. "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." Romans 8:28

If It is not God who determines the outcome of my prayer, can I trust my own wisdom to determine it, even if I can muster up the kind of belief in what I'm praying for that you're talking about? And are all my unanswered prayers and the unanswered prayers of Christians I have known simply down to our own lack of faith? Is there room for Greig's points 1 through 4 in that system? Or have I misunderstood you? I don't want to misrepresent your position - just to clarify mine and give you an opportunity to clarify yours.

Sorry to post a novel. *grin* I hope that it's readable.

Anonymous said...

I've realized I've probably raised a few scripture verses, but I don't just want to take one or two verses of scripture and say, that is what he said and that is all there is to it. His words need's to be interpret in light of the rest of what the bible says & sometimes on blogs like this one it's hard to fit everything I am trying to explain without overblogging.

"If It is not God who determines the outcome of my prayer, can I trust my own wisdom to determine it, even if I can muster up the kind of belief in what I'm praying for that you're talking about?"....

I am not saying that we are not to go to God First, because we are to go to him as our father, but we need to confess from my own mouth and hold fast to my confession of faith and my confession is in agreement with God's Word, you will recieve his healing. If I've prayed and asked God for something, and then say, "I just don't know what I am going to do, its just not working out" I've totally not put my trust in the Lord. If I, from my own mouth proclaim his word's and but my faith in them he will answer, if I cast all my cares to him he will take them from me. You are the one to determine the outcome of your prayer's and proclaim it in Jesus name. To clarify what I wrote.. I hope this clarifies it for you -You are the one to either be in agreement with God's word. We have the authority in Jesus name to bind sickness & hurt & concern with our finances etc... on Earth as it is in heaven.

"are all my unanswered prayers and the unanswered prayers of Christians I have known simply down to our own lack of faith? - This might suck to hear but to often yes. We need to give voice to the word of God when we pray. We need to confess his words on healing or fear and take authority in Jesus name, but to often we don't.

"Sometimes this frustrates me - I wonder why I bother praying if God's just going to do His own thing anyway".

Have you confessed his words from you own mouth about your prayer request to him? Just curious? This is something I am learning and by faith believing that his will be done, his will according to his word's (scripture).

novice said...

Thanks for your response, Anonymous. I'm still curious what your reaction is to the other four points of Greig's list, though. Can you outline for me what role the issues raised in those points would play in the way you see prayer?

Anonymous said...


#1 - Common Sense, The Obvious.
God is concerned what our motives are in our prayer request to him (I'm talking about prayer's that Greig classifies as, stupid). His desire is to take our cares and help us in our time of need, but is not obligated to answer prayers which feed our carnal, worldly pleasure like putting yourself, for ex. 40,000 in debt and then selfishly once you've blown the max, begging God to take your debt away.

#2 - Contradiction
John 15:7 - If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you will & it shall be done unto you.
Some prayers are not answered because they contradict other prayers, if one day I pray Lord your will be done and if the Word of God abides in me, then I am going to frame my prayer's according to the Word of God..BUT if I don't confess his words, his will and his promises from my own mouth and just say the next day in my prayers, O well Lord you know best and if it's meant to be it's meant to be...Amen.

He is not going to hear my prayer because it is not according to his will, which would in then contradict what I had first gone to God about in the first place, when I was proclaiming his Word and maybe the next day perhaps due to lack of patience or lack of perseverance or again back to the root of why there is so many unanswered prayer and that is not having Faith once I've proclaimed his word from my own lips.

#3-Laws of Nature
I think this point goes way deeper in ones prayer life, that I am going to pass on my view on Greig statment law. Unless you really want my opinion on this one, but I rather pass. But if you are still curious on my view on this point, I don't mind sharing my thought's. I just don't want to start typing on this one, and then stop at a point that it may seem way out there for some or too confusing, but if you are still curious let me know and I will do my best to give my opinion on it without overblogging.

#4-Life is Tough
Lack of Perseverance, not using your spiritual authority, lack of faith, not asking in God's will, unconfessed sin, no desire to please the Lord, not wanting to spend time with him (abiding with the Lord or his word). Life becomes difficult and prayer unanswered most times, because of these things which keep us in bondage and I believe this is why prayer's are not answered. We live in a world even in our church's when we don't want to admit this, but until we do we will remained in bondage and life becomes a lot tougher.

With all this said on my opinion on the other points raised and how they would play in the way I see prayer.

Jesus said we have authority to bind those things here on earth, like poverty, sickness, sorrow, pain etc..as it is in heaven. Prayer for me has been one of the ways to bind these things, in my own personal pain and sorrow. Jesus has given us authority to loose those things here on earth & to often this get's forgotten in our lives as christian's. I just feel this part has been lost for alot of us, I am talking about my self personally and not judging my brother or sisters out there. I think to often we live in fear of ok..I will go to God, but he didn't answer my prayer before in times of real suffering and this time my prayer request is even more tougher, just be careful to continue to stand firm in his word's and his will and continue to live your prayer life in Faith.

novice said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the detailed response.

Would it be fair to say that for each of these points you have a very different viewpoint than Greig?

In #1, you seem more concerned with motive, whereas Greig appears to be going for simple common sense, regardless of motive.

#2, you're looking at contradicting your process and being inconsistent, whereas Greig appears to be looking at conflicting prayer requests.

#3 if I understand you, is complicated in your theology, but different than Greig.

#4 for Greig is that sometimes in a fallen world life is tough, but for you it still depends on the person praying.

And of course, there's #5 where we got started, which is that sometimes our understanding of God is wrong. Certainly you and Greig agree on that point, although your understandings of God appear to be dramatically different.

So, essentially, in your view everything boils down to how you approach God for things. I think that I understand a little of what you're saying. Tell me if I'm getting it wrong.

My question earlier was "could I trust myself to have the wisdom to ask for the right things if God grants everything as long as I pray right?" I'm guessing that in your system, I wouldn't be "praying right" if I hadn't studied scripture concerning that request and discerned correctly God's will for it?

However you also go on to say that poverty, sickness, sorrow, pain, etc are all things that are not part of God's will and therefore if we pray right God will answer those prayers the way we want. That's where it all breaks down for me.

You have scripture that sounds like it could support that, but other scripture also has to be taken into account. For myself, I know from my personal experiences with God and from scripture that God does not work that way in my life. There is no perfect formula of the right words or the right theology. Certainly "the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" but all prayers are heard.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them the prayer we call today "the Lord's Prayer" to be our model. If there is such a formula that needs to be followed, why did he not teach it to them then?

And if truly we have authority to bind all these things to our will and God is compelled to act on it if we pray correctly, what was Paul doing wrong?

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Surely that is God's wisdom greater than our own, and God deciding how to deal with our prayers according to His own wisdom and not according to the strength, sincerity or theological correctness of our prayers?

Sorry for again writing an essay here, I hope this clarifies where I am coming from.

Anonymous said...

Obviously, I can keep blogging, but I've been totally misunderstood about my view on prayer, especially I am assuming some may feel that I am relying on my own strength and not God's, but thanks for clarifing your view.


novice said...

Hi Anon,

I'm really sorry that you feel I have misunderstood your view. I have really tried to understand what you were saying and I'm sorry that it appears I have not. If you wanted to point out where I went wrong I would appreciate the chance to be set straight but I understand if you don't really want to continue this.

For what it's worth, I never assumed that you were relying on your own strength for answers to prayer - my understanding was just that you were placing the onus upon yourself rather than God as to whether your prayers would be answered.

I have appreciated the dialogue with you on this even though we disagreed - perhaps even more so because we did. If I have misrepresented you or your views in any way in my posts I am truly sorry, I did not mean to. You come across as sincere and passionate and I've enjoyed talking to you.

Anonymous said...

We need to put the onus upon ourselves when it comes to believing - I am not saying rather than God as to whether our prayers would be answered. We need to in faith believe that our prayer's will be answered and alot of times we don't. Or our prayer may have not been answered in the past, so we either begin to lose trust as we pray (or maybe I am just talking about myself perhaps) and no one else has had this problem or struggle in their prayer life before. I was just trying to put the point across how important our word's are when we go to our father in prayer. It's not a system or a 'right way' to pray it's what God has instructed to his people - to pray to confess his word's and believe that he heals. This is the biggest point that I was trying to explain, and alot of times we don't do this, or again I should say I don't do this.

"However you also go on to say that poverty, sickness, sorrow, pain, etc are all things that are not part of God's will and therefore if we pray right God will answer those prayers the way we want. That's where it all breaks down for me."

I didn't say if you pray the right prayer there would be no more poverty, sickness, sorrow, pain etc. What I did say, or meant to say was, if we begin to proclaim his word's and believe in Faith, God will hear our prayer's. There is so much poverty, sickness, sorrow and pain in this world..Lord I pray that you heal my friend who is sick - Amen, but if this is all I continue to proclaim from my mouth and not proclaim God's Words on healing as an example from the bible or providing etc. when I pray then I've taken it upon my 'own made up system' and I just believe that God doesn't hear our prayers then unless I've proclaimed his word's in my prayer life. We need to be assured that we still serve a God that Heals, That binds up the broken hearted and restores them and reaches out to the poor in so many way's and this is the authority in Jesus name we have as christians to release this healing on earth as it is in heaven, yikes! I feel like I am repeating myself again, I guess this is the part I am passionate about when it comes down to prayer is God's Words and how important it place in our prayer life to answered versus unanswered prayer.