2 Corinthians 12:7-9 – So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (ESV)
In this passage, Paul says that he was being hurt by a demon. Paul prayed three times for God to remove the demon. However, God told Paul that pain is good, because it shows God’s power. What does this mean? Sometimes pain is necessary in order for us to understand love. Without pain and sin, how could we understand protection?
An example for today would be teaching our children to read, write, and do basic math. Their prayer may be to not have to do any school work or homework. But parents know this is the wrong prayer. Reading, writing, and math are all fundamentally important to their future success as adults. God thinks the same way, except His fundamentals include love, peace, and patience.
It is important for us to pray to God day and night, 24/7. We don’t have to set time aside to pray. What I mean by this is that while at work or school we can constantly be having simple conversations with God. God, please bless me today. God, give me wisdom and strength today. God, give that person peace. God, show them your love. God, give me safety on the way to work. God, thank you for my food. Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow in Luke:
Luke 18:7-8 – And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? (ESV)
In this verse, Jesus says that His “elect” will be given justice in a speedy fashion. His “elect” refer to the Barley Overcomers . The reason why they receive immediate justice is because they have a close relationship with God. Are you going to respond faster to a close loved one you talk to everyday, or a distance acquaintance you haven’t heard from in years? God is the same way. This is why we need to be talking to Him everyday, even if its simple things. Big things are more important, but we may not always have something big to pray for.
Sometimes, God gives you want you want immediately. It was already done or on its way as you prayed the prayer. An example of this is seen in the story of Hagar and her son Ishmael.
Genesis 21:16-19 – Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot, for she said, Let me not look on the death of the child. And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where his is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him a great nation. Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink. (ESV)
Ishmael was Abraham’s first son, through his concubine Hagar. Abraham hoped that God would create a great nation through Ishmael. Instead, God gave Abraham a second son through his wife Sarah who was 90 years old, named Isaac. Through Isaac, the nation of Israel was created. In the story, Hagar prays to God that He would protect Ishmael. He immediately tells her to not be afraid, because he will create a nation through Ishmael (as well as Isaac). It is thought that Ishmael’s decendants lead to the Muslim nation.
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