Prayer is the most basic expression of our faith, but without answers, our prayer is empty. The good news is that God desires to answer our prayers. His answers may not always be what we want to hear, but sometimes our desires are not in our best interest. God is much more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. What we want in this moment is not necessarily on His agenda. He has the big picture in mind of our growth and maturity as believers.
But regardless of the way He chooses to answer, answered prayer glorifies God in many ways.
- Answers to prayer are what make praying real and worth doing.
- Without answers, there would be no need to pray. Praying would be simply a ritual.
- The most real aspect of prayer is the answer.
- Answers to prayer encourage our faith.
- Answers to prayer give our prayer focus, aim and purpose.
- Answered prayer should be expected. (Hebrews 6:18)
In today's Scripture passage, Ahab is the king of Israel and has led the entire nation astray to follow the pagan god Baal. The prophet Elijah has proclaimed God's judgment over Israel for their idolatry, resulting in a three-year famine. Elijah is in danger, as the wicked king Ahab and his wife Jezebel are murdering prophets who speak against them, so the Lord sends him into hiding.
In the third year of the famine, God sends Elijah to return to Ahab and gather all the children of Israel to Mount Carmel. Altars shall be built to Baal and to the Lord, so that whichever god answers by consuming the sacrifice with fire will prove to be the true God. When the Lord answers Elijah's prayer with a consuming fire and an end to the drought, three things happen as a result: 1) Elijah is encouraged, 2) the children of Israel worship the Lord, and 3) God is glorified.
1. Answered prayer glorifies God. 1 Kings 18:37-40
Answered prayer makes God look good. Think of all the ways God reveals His faithfulness—rising and setting the sun each day, placing billions of stars in the sky so accurately that we can set our clocks—and we often take these things for granted. But doesn't He deserve credit for these wonders?
Man cannot do what God does, so the successes in our lives should be unexplainable.
Answered prayer accomplishes God's goals. When He answers your prayers, give Him the credit for what He has done in your life! Let everyone know that the accomplishment was not by your own strength and power, but God's. Man cannot do what God does, so the successes in our lives should be unexplainable.
"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." John 14:13-14
2. Answered prayer nurtures nonbelievers' faith in God. 1 Kings 18:37-40
"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.'" John 11:41-42
Pastor Miles shared that when he injured his knee in the NFL, he was with another injured player who displayed a calm peace and trust in the Lord, even in the face of a career-ending event. That kind of faith and spirit, knowing that God would take care of our needs, was so attractive to Miles. He wanted to have that kind of peace about his own injury and trust in God.
Are you sharing God's character and your faith in Him with those around you? You probably have many examples of answered prayer in your life that can encourage others if you are willing to acknowledge Him.
3. Answered prayer improves faithfulness in believers. 1 Kings 18:37-40
"I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live." Psalm 116:12
When God answers your prayers, write down how He has answered. If you have a prayer journal, you can look back over the years of faithfulness God has shown you. Wouldn't this encourage you during trials? Even beyond your own encouragement, share your prayers with fellow believers. Allow them to see God's hand moving in your life so that their faith can be strengthened as well.