It is a common thing in the life of a Christian to pray to God, or at least it should be. Prayer is that direct line of communication to God that man uses to speak to his Creator. There are various types of prayer we should engage in; prayers of worship and thanksgiving, prayers of interceding and of repentance, prayers for direction and guidance, just to name a few. There are special times though, when we find ourselves praying to God asking for one thing specifically- a miracle. We pray this type of prayer at those times when we have exhausted all hope, we find ourselves in a place where nothing humanly possible can be done to effect change in the situation, such as; doctors having told someone they have done all that can be done. This is also when people who generally do not pray will pray.
Does God answer prayer? More specifically does He still answer with the miraculous? I say yes He does. I am not really here to argue the point of whether or not God answers prayer, though I can indeed say that I have experienced this on many occasions. We so often hear of the things we must do, or the ways we should live, or the words we should pray, to reasonably expect God to answer our prayers, and I certainly agree, this is true. There are admonitions in scripture that do direct us in ways we should live and act and abide in Christ if we are to expect the benefits and blessings as sons of God. However, I am not really here to specifically speak on that issue either. The topic of this writing is one that has really just entered into my purview recently as a result of having witnessed God answer prayer with a miracle and then this question entered my mind-
If there are standards and expectations from God required for the answering of prayers, are there expectations from Him regarding our response once the prayer has been answered?
I know there are going to be some that are offended by my insistence upon there being a standard we must follow for God to answer our prayers. And yes, I will affirm that throughout scripture there are places where God says that He will bless whomever He wishes, and that the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. I will offer up praise here in that God’s mercy does surely abide forever as there are none of us worthy of any prayers being answered, except for His mercy in Christ Jesus. Having said that does not negate that there are many more places in scripture where we are called to conform to God’s prescribed standard. For lack of time and space here I will list but a few, and that the obvious, though there be many more.
Psalm 66:18-20 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
Proverbs 15:28-29 The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things. The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
Proverbs 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
According to scripture prayer is desired by God, all the way back in Genesis we see where “men began to call upon the name of the LORD”. For prayer to be acceptable it must come from a sincere heart, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” A heart that is desirous to be in union with God. I believe that God does hear the prayers of the righteous, and that He is at times moved with compassion due to these prayers. And that brings me to the cause for writing this.
I have recently witnessed prayers answered and that with a miracle. I know there were many praying who are trying to live for Christ, they who daily strive to walk in the will of God. I know there were also some who perhaps prayed as best they could- these are those who show no desire whatsoever to conform to Christ or to walk in His Spirit, or to offer themselves servants to God. And still, God answered with a miracle, a blessed second chance at life that could only come by His hand. All hope had been removed by the report of the doctors who had said, “There is nothing more we can do”. Death was at the door and God intervened and restored life!
And here is where my question arises, because the response was one I would not have expected. Instead of joy and thanksgiving to God for the miracle, what followed was- nothing. One moment we were seemingly preparing for a funeral and the next we had witnessed a miracle and yet, it was as if nothing happened. Now to the ones who had earnestly been praying, there was great joy and praise to our mighty God who reigns omnipotent for His great mercy! But with those who do not sincerely seek after God- nothing. In fact what ensued were bickering, fighting and a true contempt for anything or anyone who espoused the praises to God. And this awakened the question and the fear in me.
Are there expectations from God regarding our response once prayer has been answered, especially miraculous prayer?
I say yes there are, and this is the troubling part. We find one such answer in Matthew chapter 11:20-24
Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
“Because they repented not.”
“Woe unto thee” Three times woe.
Woe: grief, sorrow, misery, heavy calamity unto you who have witnessed the miracles of Christ and still refuse to repent.
Jesus is saying in these verses that those cities which had been destroyed for their utter sinfulness and rebellion against God would had repented if they had but seen the miracles and works of Christ that Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum are now witnessing. But pride and self-centeredness and hardness of heart bring about their ultimate grief, sorrow and calamity as they shall be brought down to hell.
In fact Jesus is saying that there will be no excuse for anyone who rejects His offer of salvation as there are far too many proofs of His existence and Godhead. Anytime we are witnesses to the miraculous there is an expectation from God that His children rejoice and be thankful. And yet, the miracle is a sign to the unbeliever as well and the expectation is repentance.
Though it makes me tremble and mournful, I can somewhat understand unbelievers not repenting (or rejoicing) due to pride and hardness of heart, etc. But it is quite saddening to me when even the believers fail to praise God when He works in their midst.