Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prayer 101: When Your Prayer Isn't Answered

True story: Carrie and I started dating on a December Saturday (actually, I can remember the exact date, but I don't want you to think I'm just showing off). We had a couple of dates, then I went home for Christmas break. We were in college, so that meant that I wouldn't see her for about a month. As soon as I got home, I sent her a letter. Then I waited a while.

(As a reminder, back then there were no cell phones, email, text-messaging, etc. When you were separated from your main squeeze, you had two choices for communication--snail mail and long-distance phone calls. Since my parents were still paying the long-distance bills, I decided to let the letter suffice for a few days before I called)

After a week or so, I decided to call her long-distance. Surprisingly, her voice seemed a little upset. After some prodding, I found out why: My letter had never arrived. She had assumed that I had gone home and forgotten about her. Perhaps I had even taken up with some old girlfriend (If she'd seen the sort of girls who lived in Yoakum at the time, her fears would've been greatly relieved). I did my best soft-shoe routine over the phone to show her how sorry I was, then followed that up with another letter explaining how excited I was to be dating her, how I didn't know what had happened to that letter. And then--here's the worst part--both the earlier letter and my letter of apology arrived at her house at the same time. The US Postal Service nearly ended my marriage before it ever began! Fortunately, Carrie chose to believe in me.

Sometimes, it's hard to believe in a God we can't see, especially when He doesn't seem to respond to our prayers. The most common heresy in popular preaching today says that if we live the right way, pray the right way, give to the right preacher, then God will always answer our requests in the affirmative. It certainly didn't work that way for Paul, however, as he shares in 2 Corinthians 12. When his prayer for relief from his "thorn in the flesh" went unanswered, how did Paul respond? That is what we'll discuss this Sunday.

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