Sunday, May 25, 2008

God's greatest gifts

There was this song that Garth Brooks sang in the early 90s that went something like, "Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers..." It was a popular song and despite the bad theology of it all, people liked it because they could identify with it: People have many "unanswered" prayers. The song gave them comfort, much like the saying, "God says yes, no, or wait." This is concrete, this gives us answers, this is a formula. We like formulas, predictability, and answers. And while our God is certainly a God of plans, rhythms, and sequence, there is also a side of Him that is highly creative, and unpredictable to our human minds. And this can certainly apply to Christian disciplines such as prayer.

The reason the Garth Brooks song is bad theology is that really there are no "unanswered prayers." While it's true that God says, "yes, no, or wait", He also may choose to answer that prayer in another highly creative way unbeknownest to us. We can be sure there are no unanswered prayers because in Revelation it speaks of all the saints prayers being piled up on an altar before God at the end times:
“Another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar [where the prayers were burning before God] and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” ~Revelation 8: 4-5

The altar was burning with millions and millions of prayers: “Thy kingdom come! Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”—mounting up over the centuries! And the angel filled the censer with the flame of those burning prayers and threw it on the earth and the final victory of God came. The prayers of the ages bring the victory of God. Not one single cry for the coming of Christ and the victory of God is ever wasted.~John Piper

The fact that every single prayer that I utter for the victory of God is not wasted is a huge comfort to me. Sometimes when all I can utter is a simple phrase, "God, help"--I know that prayer is only being piled up on His altar. Even the "bigger" prayers, such as my child's spiritual growth are being piled up on that altar.  And they will be answered one day, not unanswered. That's the greatest gift.

8 comments:

Lauren said...

Wow...I really needed to hear that today. Thank you for sharing it.

Beverly said...

Yes, YES! And I love the quote from Piper! BTW, I just realized that I inadvertantly left you off of my sidebar when I redid my template. Yikes!! If you noticed, I just wanted you to know that it was totally unintentional. {{{hugs}}}

Sara said...

Love this post...it really gave me some good stuff to ponder. Thanks mama! xxoo

:..Rebekah..: said...

What a wonderful reminder about our prayers, and a great quote from Piper. I love that! It is a very encouraging thing to a mom, and brings comfort that can't be put into words to know that my prayers for my children are piled up on the alter, heard, and will be answered! God is so good!

Monica said...

What an amazing truth! Thanks for the reminder and encouragement to continue praying.

Kim said...

:: shakes head in agreement ::
Amen.

Beck said...

This was wonderful.
When my 40 year old uncle was dying, my aunt believed rather magically that if we all prayed hard enough he would be cured. Sometimes God says no. We'll understand why later.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome post! I feel utterly dependant on God to help me and guide me when all I want to do is take care of my children! After I wrote that I realized that as a Christian, I am to actually live for His glory, not for being a godly mother. Thanks so much, Mary Brooke