There are seasons in life which will be difficult. Some of the difficulty of these seasons are multiplied by the unexpected nature with which they come. Over the past month, I have been convicted in the area of prayer. Initially, this conviction was spurred by my prayers for a young 5 year old boy fighting against leukemia. . .for the second time in his young life. During Missionary Enrichment Conference and during my two weeks in Togo, I was further convicted, not just to pray boldly and in full faith but to pray with fervency for exactly what I want to see God do. Since February of 2016, I have also been praying for my friends Josh and Courtney Kosiorek. They had a baby boy in February. Little Elias was born with heart problems requiring him to be in and out of procedures. Prayers were precious.
In the last 2 days I have learned a very poignant lesson in prayer:
Prayer challenges God but His actions are His own.
The Bible instructs us to pray, so we do. Or at least we try. But prayer is difficult is it not? Mark 11:24 says this about prayer, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." This means we are to pray as though we have already received the answer we desire. What it does not mean is that we are to pray for "God's will".
Surely praying for God's will to be done sounds spiritual but we are only doing an injustice while simultaneously cheating ourselves out of watching the beauty of His miraculous work. By the very nature of God, He can only do His will. To do anything but His own will is to undermine that He is God. I believe that our prayers for "God's will" to be done in a situation are little more than a security blanket for our fears that God will do something we do not agree with nor understand. But the psalmist says this in Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Trust in Him fully and do not fear in times of trial and desperation. God is faithful.
King David prayed in full faith for his sick son in 2 Samuel 12:16. Does he say, "Dear God, please heal this child and let him live. But if it is not your will, then let that child die and teach Bathsheba and me to cling to You and glorify You in the pain. May we learn from his death."? NO! David does not even say words remotely close to that.
David pleaded deeply and fervently for this child to be healed. He did not eat, nor sleep. He spent his time begging God to spare his son's life. We are instructed to ask and to ask fervently, believing that it will be done as we ask.
I accepted this challenge of prayer in boldness from David. Through examples of Moses, Elijah, and others as well, I continued to see the pattern of bold prayer. And God did what they asked! He acted according to His will. Yet, God's plans do not always meet our expectations. Naaman the leper hears of God and desires to be healed of his disease. When Elisha tells him to bathe seven times in the dirty Jordan river, Naaman is offended! Why? He had expectations of Israel's God and His methods of healing.
God acts in His own way, on His own time. That is God's will. Sometimes God's answers seem silent. Sometimes He makes us wait. But He is always answering us!
I prayed for the health of baby Eli. His little body was weak but he was fighting. In full faith I asked boldly without presenting any options to my God, Jehovah Rophe, the Great Physician. He has the power to do it so I challenged Him in prayer. God answered. At first it sounded like "No". And it hurt.
"DEATH, GOD?! THIS IS NOT FAIR! I ASKED IN BOLD FAITH FOR WHOLENESS AND COMPLETE HEALING. I BELIEVED YOU COULD AND WOULD. WHY DEATH?!"
Baby Eli had died. His fighting was over. My heart was in deep sorrow. God was silent. While I did not have the grace of David in 2 Samuel 12:22-23, Eli's mother and father did. I re-read the post they had written to update their friends.
What beautiful perspective grace and understanding. What a peace in such a hard and troubling and sorrowful time! Yes, our hearts are heavy and grief is acceptable. Then Sunday morning in church God spoke, LOUDLY!
"Healing child, healing. I am Jehovah Rophe and I am the God of the unexpected and the unconventional. I do according to My purpose and plan. Look what I have done".
God answered my prayer. He answered with a "yes" unlike any other. Like Naaman, it was against my expectations, but it was a "yes" nonetheless. Eli is in heaven with Jesus. He is healed and completely whole just as many of us prayed.