533: Is There Something Better than Answered Prayer?
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Give a Man a Fish, Feed Him for a Day
When it comes to our understanding of the Kingdom of God, what makes the early church different from us is they lived in the realm of knowing God as their King and they served Him on earth while maintaining the rights and privileges of being a citizen of His Kingdom. We talk about it; they lived it. We have a theological understanding of the Kingdom; they functioned like card-carrying citizens of His Kingdom. And the difference between their lives and ours is, well, profound.
The early Christians, and many since then, have relished in the confidence and boldness that comes from knowing they are a child of the King and living in His grand and protected Kingdom. Remember, nothing can happen to a citizen of the Kingdom that surprises the King. And nothing can happen to a child of the King unless the King thought it best.
This is where faith trumps our fallen senses. This is where we can experience the joy and boldness that comes from knowing and living like we have God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, living and abiding in us. And this is the realm of life when we take God at His Word and trust what He says, no matter what. It is literally walking by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
For example, consider the following familiar verse.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand – Philippians 4:4-5.
How is this humanly possible? We are commanded, no matter what happens to us by evil people or institutions, to let our mercy and tolerance and unassertiveness be known, by experience in real life and in real time, to all, even to those who hate us and want to destroy us. How can we have the depth of love and grace and confidence to live like that? What did the early church believe that we don’t?
Teach a Man to Fish, Feed Him for a Lifetime
But there is more. We continue reading in Philippians.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7.
This passage promises we will receive peace if we trust God with everything. Got that. But also notice what it doesn’t promise.
• This promise doesn’t guarantee God will remove you from whatever situation you are worried about.
• This promise doesn’t guarantee you won’t feel pain or loss or suffer death?
• And this promise doesn’t guarantee a humanly positive outcome, no matter how hard we pray.
But what it does promise is the peace of God which the world, including each of us, cannot fully fathom or understand. And God’s peace will guard our emotions and thoughts through the Lord Jesus, no matter how bad our situation might seem in the flesh. After all, we serve a great King who knows best. And if He wanted to answer our prayers like we desire, He both could and would, if He wanted to. But if He doesn’t, there is a reason we often cannot see, or don’t want to see, because we think we know best.
So is there something more important than having God answer our prayers? Absolutely. What does this saying mean?
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
And this same principle works in our prayer life. Spiritually, we could say it this way.
Answer a specific prayer, and you teach a man to expect God to give him what he prays for.
Teach a man the goodness of God, and He will grow into the likeness of His Lord and trust Him no matter the outcome. One is temporal, the other eternal.
More important than getting our prayers answered is experiencing the peace that only our Sovereign God can give. God knew this. And the early church knew this. Therefore, no matter how dire their circumstances, they trusted and rested in Him and His goodness. And He took care of the rest.
Do you live like this? Would you like to live like this? If so, keep listening.