God's Responses (Part 2)
Yesterday we began considering the topic of prayer. We noted that God is attentive to the prayers of the righteous and that He hears every prayer, although He doesn't necessarily answer them in the way we expect. But...

The Lord does respond quickly to fulfill certain petitions of His children. Let us consider some Biblical examples.

Hannah, unable to conceive, prayed earnestly that she might be able to bear a son, and God answered with a prompt "yes" by giving her Samuel, plus other children as well (I Sam. 1 & 2). Hannah said in I Samuel 1:27 - "For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him."

James recounted the response of God to the prayers of Elijah. James 5:17,18 reads - "Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit." Elijah was righteous, but he was merely a man. His prayers on these occasions were answered powerfully and positively.

Numerous other accounts demonstrate that God, according to His grace and wisdom, sometimes responds rapidly and affirmatively to the pleas of His faithful people. Other examples include: II Kings 20:1-7 where Hezekiah asked for his life to be extended, Daniel 2:23 where Daniel asked for the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar's dream, also Ezra 8:21-23, Luke 1:13, etc.

In addition to citing a few examples illustrating God's positive responses to prayer, I'd like to make one more important point in this lesson. In the past, God has responded to some petitions miraculously and to others through natural means (i.e., His providence). The Bible teaches that humans are no longer performing miracles as signs to confirm the word of God (cf. I Cor. 13:8ff; Eph. 4:7ff). Although there are many self-proclaimed "faith healers", careful study and observation will show that genuine miracles are not being performed by men today. When is the last time you saw someone raised from the dead? Jesus and His apostles did such in the first century. But, I digress. It is easy, but I believe mistaken, to think that because God is no longer working through humans to perform miracles that He is no longer working in our lives period. Those who hold such a conclusion will have shallow prayer lives, for they will always doubt the power of prayer. For example, Christians often pray for God to be with the doctors who care for their loved ones who are sick. There is nothing wrong with that, but why not pray for the Lord to heal them according to His will? Can the Lord heal someone today in a way that appears to be or perhaps even is miraculous? I believe that such is possible. Who am I to say what God will or will not do today? Obviously, He won't do that which is against His will, but where in Scripture is it taught that God will not work on His own providentially and perhaps even miraculously today? I believe that God is still "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20). God is still mindful of His faithful ones and works to answer prayers that are offered in accordance with His will. We should pray at all times in full confidence that His ears are open to our pleas. He will answer with a prompt "yes" when such is in our best interest.

We will continue this study on God's responses tomorrow.