Do You Really Believe That God Answers Prayer?

In Acts 12 we see Herod executing James, one of the Sons of Thunder. We also see Herod arrest Peter so that he can kill him and thus incur even more favor with the Jewish authorities. While Peter is waiting for His execution, an angel delivers him much to his confused delight. He goes to the house where people are praying for him. At first they don’t believe that it is actually him. They think he must be a ghost. After all, Peter was to be put to death. Even though they were praying for him, he could not be there in person.

There are times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue. Fear grips us. Despair sets in. We go beyond worry to the point where we go through the stages of grief. Things seem out of control and we mourn that loss of control in the light of the event which brings on our fear. We deny that things have gotten out of hand and we deny that there’s anything we can do about it. This leads to anger. After all, as a Christian, we should not fear – we should be able to handle this. We get angry with God and with ourselves. Then we move, not to trusting God, but to bargaining with Him. We want Him to remove the attack or show us a way around the issue and when that doesn’t happen – when things don’t go the way we think God should take them – we despair. We become depressed because even God won’t help us when we need Him most. We also despair when we come to the end of ourselves and realize that we are not enough – that “we ain’t got this.”

The final stage of grief is acceptance. When we come to the end of ourselves – when we accept the fact that “we don’t got this” – can follow the instruction of Psalm 56:3. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in You, God.” We can either trust in God or we can continue to go down the road of despair – the road that leads to impotence, immobility, and incapacity. What began as an event that caused us to worry and fear becomes our ruin. And all because we did not trust in God.

By trusting in God we not only find peace and victory in the midst of the trial, but we also find freedom and strength to keep on living in spite of whatever life might throw our way.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We have prayed. We have turned it over to the Lord. The next step should be to “stand firm, without fear, and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for you.” “God will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13a & 14) This was the truth Moses declared to the Israelites as they were being pursued by the Egyptians and it’s true for us as Christians as well. Jesus promised us that He would never abandon us or forsake us.

However, in spite of what we know to be true about the ability of God to deliver us and/or sustain us in every situation, we quite often pray and then go right back to dwelling on the situation that brought us to the point of prayer in the first place. Instead of looking to Jesus in the midst of the storm we focus on the storm allowing our fear to increase and our faith to dissipate.

So we pray. We turn it over to the Lord. We stand still and see God work as only He can and we experience relief or we experience strength to see us through the crisis. And we rejoice knowing that God has once again proven Himself faithful.

Or . . . we deny that God has worked and think that there must be a more rational explanation. For example, you pray for someone you love to be freed from alcohol addiction. There have been numerous times in the past when you thought that God had accomplished the deliverance only to shortly learn that the deliverance was only temporary. Therefore, even though this time seems different, you don’t see it as the work of the Lord but rather just another trip down the endless road of rescue, redemption, and relapse. So instead of standing still and enjoying the salvation of the Lord, we see this event as one of those times in life when life itself seems too awful for life to continue.

One final thought – If God is sovereign, why do we pray? We pray “in Jesus’ Name” because we are submitting to His authority. Then God, in His sovereignty, can and does act according to what He knows is the best course of action. When Moses “changed God’s mind” (Exodus 32:14) it wasn’t that God didn’t know what was going on at the bottom of the mountain and Moses explained to Him why He was wrong. He wanted Moses to be involved in the process – to turn on the faucet of His divine plan and grace. God knows what we need before we ask Him. (Matthew 6:8) Still, He wants us to pray. He wants to live in close relationship with us and He wants us to trust Him before, during, and after the trials that come our way.  He wants us to ask.  He wants us to come to Him in prayer.  Being able to reconcile our freewill choice in prayer and God’s sovereignty in the situation we bring before Him )even before we ask Him) is something we may never understand this side of heaven, but exercising our freewill choice in prayer is something we must do.

We must pray at all times and trust God to not only hear our prayers but also to respond to our prayers. We must wait patiently and expectantly to see how God works to bring about His good in the midst of our situation.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you are facing difficulties see it as an opportunity to rejoice! Your faith is being tested and, as the problems grow, it develops endurance within you. Rejoice! And then as your endurance grows stronger, you will move from victory to victory until there is nothing nothing lacking in your character. Rejoice! If you want to understand what all this means, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! Just make sure you ask with confident faith and without doubting that you will receive. The ambivalent person believes one minute and doubts the next. Being undecided makes you become like a wave in the ocean – driven and tossed by the wind. You’re up one minute and down the next. When you are half-hearted and wavering it leaves you unstable. God won’t give you the understanding you seek when you’re in that vacillating state of heart and mind. (James 1:2-8 – Paraphrased)

This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, July 31, 2022. It is part of a series of Bible study sessions from The Gospel Project – a Bible study curriculum developed by Lifeway Christian Resources. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

Website – FromTheBackPorch.org

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Email – fromthebackporchintexas@gmail.com

To Face Injustice We Must Begin With Prayer

When faced with a situation that caused great concern to the Colonists, the first thing our Founding Fathers did was to pray. Their prayer was met with anger by the political powers. This led to the establishment of the Continental Congress which ultimately led to the Declaration of Independence. And it all began with fasting, humiliation, and prayer.

After the Boston Tea Party, King George punished the city by instituting the Boston Port Act, March 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce. Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson drafted a Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution, to be observed the same day the blockade was to commence. It was introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses by Robert Carter Nicholas, May 24, 1774 and was supported by Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason. It passed unanimously. It was to be “a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.”

The King’s appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so angered by this Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Virginia’s colonial leaders went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form a Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia a little over three months later. Less than two years after that, the Continental Congress voted for Independence.

Many today are concerned with the existing and potential loss of freedoms in our nation. Many today are angry over the injustices which seem to abound in our nation. While there are actions which can be taken to stand against such wrongs, those actions are pointless unless we begin with prayer. And not just any prayer. It must be the prayer of a contrite, humble, and yes – humiliated – people who acknowledge that God and God alone is their source of help. By fasting and praying we place ourselves in the proper attitude of submission that will lead to actions which can and will produce results.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. ~1 Peter 5:6~

“Those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State .

He’s With Us Through This Whole Thing

Today marks 9 months since my prostate cancer surgery. I had my 9-month visit with my doctor this week and my blood work has remained unchanged ever since the surgery. There is no detectable PSA and consequently no detectable cancer cells. He was thrilled to see me as he has been at every checkup. He told me again how happy he was with the results and I flippantly asked, “What did you expect?” He replied, “I fully expected you to be on radiation at this point as well as hormone therapy. You really should not be doing this well.” He said that when he saw the pathology report and when he saw the MRI and then when the report came back from M.D. Anderson that showed my entire prostate had been taken over by the cancer and that it had taken over the seminal vesicles and that it was in the margins (the marginal tissue of the prostate next to the surrounding tissues) and that it had moved into the lymph nodes – well he figured I would be struggling. Then he looked me in the eye and said that “the Lord was definitely by my side throughout this whole thing.” All I can say is AMEN.


But here’s the even greater truth – even if none of this good news had come, the Lord would still have been by my side through this whole thing. The three boys in the fiery furnace knew that God was able to deliver them and even told the king that, but then they said that if God didn’t deliver them they would still worship Him and Him alone. And who showed up in the midst of the fiery furnace? Jesus showed up – He was with them throughout that whole thing. God didn’t promise us deliverance from the the trials and troubles of this life. In fact, he promised us that they would come. But He also said that He would be with us throughout this whole thing.

“And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

We the People Must Pray

Scripture has much to say about the relationship between Christians and the governments under which they live. We are told in Romans 13:1 that no authority exists except by God and that authorities that do exist have been established by God. We know we are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s, but we must also remember that we have been given a roll of support for those in governing positions. In 2 Peter 2:17 we were told to honor the emperor. In Romans 13:1 and in 1 Peter 2:13 we are told to submit to the governing authorities. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we are told to pray for those in authority over us – for those who are in high positions. We are to intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. This last one is rather hard to do when our personal beliefs and opinions are at times the exact opposite of those in authority and yet, the command is there and we have no choice as followers of Christ but to submit to that command.

However, an even more sobering thought is that, in America, We the People are the ultimate authority. We the People are the ones in charge. We the People are the ones who decide who comes and goes in those higher places. We the People are responsible. The buck stops with us. So if we pray for those in authority, perhaps the most significant prayers should be offered for ourselves – We the People. Until we the People are on solid footing in total subjection to our Supreme commander, the Lord God almighty, then our decisions as the governing authorities in America are flawed at best and disastrous at worst. We really can’t blame the governing authorities because the governing authorities are us. We can’t point to Washington or to our state capitals as the source of our societal evils when we ourselves will not acknowledge the sin that so easily entangles us.

It’s time to pray for America and those who are in positions of authority. It’s time to pray that We the People will come to recognize God as the one who has placed us in this position of leadership in our country and act accordingly. May God Bless America and may god bless us as individual Americans who must assume our God-given and constitutionally-mandated responsibilities as the governing authorities of our great nation.

Respond to Injustice with Prayer

Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. Perhaps we should take a page from our founding fathers and humbly seek God’s face in the face of injustice.

After the Boston Tea Party, King George punished the city by instituting the Boston Port Act, March 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce.

Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson drafted a Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution, to be observed the same day the blockade was to commence.  It was introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses by Robert Carter Nicholas, May 24, 1774 and was supported by   Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason. It passed unanimously.  It was to be “a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.” 

The King’s appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so angered by this Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Virginia’s colonial  leaders went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form the Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia a little over three months later. About a year later they reconvened as the Second Continental Congress and one year later voted for Independence.