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By
 
Pamela A. Johnson
 
 
          My husband, Ryan suffers from a chronic sinus condition caused by military service in the in frigid climates in Europe. Each morning when he gets up he has an excessive amount of phlegm that has to be cleared from his system and this process often times triggers a gagging affect and the morning goes down hill from there. I shall omit further details in fear of ruining any lunches. 
          One evening he made the comment that once he gets to heaven he’ll have a new body and won’t have to deal with chronic sinusitis anymore. My response to him was, “Have you ever prayed about your condition and asked for healing?” He replied, “God has bigger things to deal with than my sinusitis. Some things you just have to live with, just like God did not remove Paul’s thorn.”
          Some might interpret Ryan’s remarks and feelings as a lack of faith and/or belief in God. However, it’s not and in actuality a lot of us share this same thought pattern. There’s war going on, children are starving to death, homelessness, lack of health care in our country—I am not going to burden God with my little circumstances, I’ll just deal with it. The truth is—God has the time, power, and ability to deal with every issue brought before him (and those not brought before him) from an ingrown toenail to terrorist attacks. Because of Jesus Christ we have been given an amazing gift of being able to go boldly before the Throne of Grace--we do not need to sacrifice rams and turtledoves nor do we need to ask a priest to intercede for us--and request anything from God. “And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15 (NLT) God can answer our prayers in one of three ways: “yes”, “wait”, or “no”, and we must have enough faith in Him and His power to be assured that however he answers us, whether we find it favorable or not, He has our best interest in mind. 
          Sure, God knows our situations, He knows our every need and every desire of our heart but going to God in prayer and then receiving and accepting an answer to prayer helps to build a relationship between ourselves and God. Similar to being a parent—when I go into the grocery store with my six-year old it is clear in my mind that he wants a donut, some candy or gum, or something that has no nutritionally value whatsoever. However, in the rare instance that he does not ask me for one of these items, I will not automatically buy them—he must ask before I will buy (and even then, I say no for obvious reasons). But when he asks and depending on my answer, I have an explanation for him that builds a relationship between he and I and increases his knowledge at the same time. “Yes, Jaylen you can have a Lunchable today because you asked nicely or you can get a pack of gum because you did your homework without griping.” He learns positive reinforcement. “No, Jaylen you cannot have candy because it is too much sugar and that causes cavities.” He learns nutrition and how to properly care for his teeth. “I will wait to get you a donut on Friday as long as I don’t get any bad reports from your teacher.” He learns delayed gratification and how his actions have consequences.   This is the same with our Heavenly Father—praying builds relationship and His answers increase faith and teach and instruct us.
          Many of us do not take everything to God in prayer for various reasons. We think the situation is trivial, impossible, we are embarrassed or ashamed about it, we think what we are requesting is selfish, or we simply do not think about going in prayer about certain situations. But, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to Keep on praying (NLT) or Pray without ceasing (KJV).
There is no situation that we can experience that is too small for God—I have prayed for the Lord to help me find my keys in the morning when I was rushing off to work. Nothing is impossible for God, “Anything is possible if a person believes.” Mark 9:23 (NLT). Are you facing an incurable disease, helpless financial situation, or a child with a learning disability? Take that situation and give it to God in prayer. All of us deal with temptations and shortcomings on a daily basis from gossiping to food addictions to drugs and alcohol to sexual temptations and some of us give in to them from time to time and we are embarrassed and ashamed to even think about it, let alone talk to God about it. However, there is no situation, action, or thought that will surprise God or cause him to stop loving you. The only way to deal with temptations or embarrassing situations is to ask God to help you with it.  
For those of you who have read the New York Times Best Seller, The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson you may recall in this book how he spoke about how we as Christian tend to feel that we must pray for other things and other people lest we be viewed as selfish. In actuality it is perfectly OK to go to God with personal requests and to ask the Lord to bless you. A prayer itself is not selfish—only your motives can be seen as such. There is nothing wrong with praying for a new car if you plan on using it to take people to church who could otherwise not get there or to visit the sick and shut-in. It is not selfish to ask the Lord to bless you, He wants to bless His Children, as long as you are clear that we are blessed in order to be a blessing to someone else. James speaks of this in the third verse of chapter 4, “And even when you do ask, you don't get it because your whole motive is wrong – you want only what will give you pleasure.” 
          We must reprogram ourselves as Christians to pray about everything—job choices, having children, our mate, church membership, our personal ministry and spiritual gifts, illness, sin, temptations, faith—everything!   If you are facing a situation that you have not gotten an answer from God on, you may want to pray and ask God to show you how to pray about that situation. There was a time when I prayed for my children’s lives to be more enriched and I instructed the Lord on how I wanted Him to do this, to no avail. Nothing was changing, so of course the enemy tried to convince me that I was not worthy of having this prayer answered. In the meantime, I continued to pray for guidance, I studied my Bible, and read various books by Christian writers—in other words I deepened by relationship with God. Eventually I learned that all I needed to do was give God my situation without step by step instructions on how to resolve the issue at hand and trust God to work out the details. He definitely does not need my help. After I prayed, the Lord instructed me and my husband to move from the city we were living in to a different city and He has blessed us more than we could have ever imagined. He answered my prayer in a way that I would have never thought to ask and He has done more than I would ever have expected Him to do.Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” (Ephesians 3:20)  God did for us what he did for Solomon in I Kings 3:12-13: “I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding mind such as no one else has ever had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for – riches and honor!”
          As for Paul and his thorn(s), although he had to ultimately live with his weaknesses, he did go to God and ask him to remove them, not once, but three times. God’s answer was no, and not because God wanted to see Paul suffer, but because it would benefit Paul overall.
 
“. . .Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.2 Corinthians 12: 7-10 (NLT)
 
The bottom line is, Paul did go to God and ask. The answer was not what he wanted it to be, but he asked. Even Jesus—who was the Word made into man and lived a sinless existence—prayed, all the time.         
If you are a nonbeliever or you are not sure of your salvation, the first prayer you need to pray is for God to save you and take His place in your life as your personal savior—pray that prayer immediately.
Prayer is an essentially part of our lives as Christians. So, pray all the time about everything and God will be faithful to answer you. Don’t worry about the dynamics of the situation, just ask God to work it out and have faith that He can and will. If you are dealing with lack of faith and doubt, you can even ask God to help you in that area as well. God is capable of doing anything, but failing.    
  October 2017  
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22

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