A Devotion for 18 March 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. 2Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. 3And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. 4But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. * 5And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. 6And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. * 7And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. 8And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.”
(1 Kings 19:1-8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
I have perhaps chosen the wrong title for this devotion, at least in the case of the believer’s prayer – they are all answered. It is simply that God does not always answer in the positive or after the manner of our asking. We are told that God will not hear the prayer of willful sinners: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalms 66:18) But those who trust in Him in righteousness will have all prayers answered in some manner after the overruling will of God.
Look at poor Elijah who fled in fear from the treachery of Jezebel in the introductory text. He feared for his very life and even begged God to take away his life, yet, God did not allow Elijah to taste death. “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 11And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (2 Kings 2:9-11) Elijah never tasted death but was translated directly to Heaven.
Job was a man greatly tortured by the Adversary as a witness of his faith in God. He did not understand the celestial war of which he was the principal participant. The time came when Job had what he believed was more than he could bear. “Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! 9Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! 10Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:8-10) God saw Job’s circumstances in a better light. He preserved Job’s life through many trials and, finally, rewarded Job with exactly twice the possessions he had before the trials. That is one of our shortcomings in prayer. We do not trust God to see our needs better than we see them or ask about them.
The Apostle had a besetting debility that somehow hindered his labors at preaching. He sought relief from God in prayer: “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9) Both Job and Paul suffered under the hidden process of the glorification of God. We all do to a certain extend. When Christ commands us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him, He does not mean that we follow down a path bedecked with roses. We will have a hard road to travel if we follow Him in His sufferings and deprivations.
Moses suffered the murmurings and rebellion of the Children of Israel for forty years in the Wilderness. Yet, God would not allow Moses to go over Jordan into the Promised Land with Israel. Moses had glorified himself at the Rock of Horeb rather than glorified God whose power brought forth water. “And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, 24O Lord GOD, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? 25I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 26But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 27Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan.” (Deuteronomy 3:23-27) In fact, God took Moses’ life on Mount Nebo and buried him in a lonely grave in the Valley of Moab. How sad, right? Wrong! The next time we see Moses is in a far better Mount – that of the Transfiguration with our Lord Jesus Christ. “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.” (Matthew 17:1-3) Did Moses not go to a far better Land of Promise than Canaan?
King David did not receive the answer to prayer for which he pleaded. A child was born to Bathsheba as a result of David’s sin of murder and adultery. He harbored sin in his heart and God did not grant his prayer. The child was deathly sick for seven days. “David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 17And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them. 18And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?” (2 Samuel 12:16-18) Of course, David had been made aware of the enormity of his sins by Nathan the prophet. His response is precious to all parents who have lost a beloved child: “When David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12:19-23)
Allow me to provide an illustration from my own experience in prayer. My wife, Debbie, was recently diagnosed with a serious heart condition. A heart catheterization revealed her heart was ‘globally weak’ and the mitral valve was not functioning properly. Moreover, the cardiologist installed a stent in one of her arteries. The cardiologist said Debbie’s heart appeared too weak to repair the heart valve, but sent her to Birmingham for further examination in hopes that her heart would, indeed, be strong enough for that procedure. We prayed fervently that Debbie’s heart would be strong enough for surgery; but God did not answer our prayers according to our asking. Upon a thorough examination at Birmingham, the doctor looked at the results of his examination and announced that Debbie’s heart was now functioning properly (perhaps owing to the relief provided by the stent) and she would no longer need invasive surgery to repair the heart valve. Our prayers were answered in a far better way than we had hoped.
Prayer is a two-way means of communication – not simply reading off a laundry list of our needs. We must patiently await the answer of the Lord. And we must always remember to pray as did our Lord Jesus Christ – that the Father’s will be done regardless of our own: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) It was not the Father’s will that the cup of suffering and sacrifice pass from His only Begotten Son and, because of that, we have been redeemed and Christ has gained the title “Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.”
Have you prayed today, friend?