How Does The Infallible God Of Heaven Answer The Fallible Prayers Of His Earthly Children?

Human nature because of its depravity is devoted to perverseness. Not only is there dedication to distorting, twisting, and corrupting truth, but humanity appears to have a genuine delight in doing so. A clear evidence of this aspect of corruption is the propensity, the universal human propensity, to compound the simple and to trivialize the profound. Nowhere is this inclination more evident, and more dangerous, than with Bible doctrine. The apostle Paul recognized this tendency and warned believers not to allow themselves to be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

No doctrine of Scripture has been spared the abusive, wresting efforts of humanity. Not even the most basic and simplest of Bible truths has escaped these attacks. God's simple plan of salvation, revealed and preserved so clearly in Scripture, that, as Isaiah's highway, the way of holiness (Isaiah 35: 8), a wayward man, though a fool, "shall not err therein," has been so twisted by some as to become unrecognizable. Grace has been redefined, even in evangelical circles, to mean “the ability that God gives to follow His principles of life” or “grace is the power to do God's will.” How it is possible for a man (who claims to base his teachings on the word of God and who receives the praise of Bible believers) to so confuse the grace of God with the works of humanity is incomprehensible—except for the exceeding deceitfulness of sin, the cunning of Satan, and the gullibility of the depraved old nature. Works in various forms and degrees have been included in 'the means of salvation,' not only by the teacher just mentioned but also by the majority of those claiming to be Christian. The contamination is so great that even many Baptists are confused. Other examples could easily be multiplied, but my comments are not meant to include all the doctrinal error present in pulpits today; I am calling attention to the fact that corruption of doctrine is a danger that is ever present and is especially dangerous because of the attraction that various versions of error hold for the fallen nature of men and women. Whether from personal perverseness or with satanic encouragement, multitudes have certainly erred from the truth.

One vital area of the life of the Christian has been especially misshapen by incorrect teachings making profundity out of simplicity. Prayer for the child of God ought to be a most natural part of his or her personal life and not just religious life but life in general. To speak with our heavenly Father should be as natural and as much a part of normal day-to-day life as is breathing, eating, walking, or talking. Though I do not wish to minimize the necessity of reverence, prayer is after all just talking with God. Though it must never be frivolous and it must not be taken lightly, prayer is a child conversing with his or her or Father. It is true that we must never forget who He is and who we are, and we must approach Him with reverence and godly fear; however, we should always remember that He has invited us to approach His throne in times of need. He encourages us to come boldly—not brashly or brazenly, but nonetheless boldly.

By stressing the natural nature of prayer, I do not intend to imply that prayer is either simple or easy. As in speaking, to make and noise is easy to learn, but to deliver a speech is more difficult. Just so, learning to pray requires effort, concentration, and practice. There is more to speaking than babbling and there is much more to praying than mere saying some words.

While the intentions of many teachers and preachers no doubt have been sincere, the results have not been good. The great emphasis on daily devotions and prayer closets has provided many believers with a concept that prayer is to be relegated

to a special time and place. Prayer should be for every believer, because it is, a vital part of life—all of life. Prayer is not to be reserved for the great times of need or for special places of worship or the secret times of solitude. Prayer is not for formal occasions but for life's occasions. Since we are always in the presence of God, we should begin praying as we awake and continue our conversation with our Father, in Whom we live and move and have our being, throughout our day. A study of David's prayers as recorded in his Psalms will show that David included his God in the multiplied activities of his day. One finds David speaking to his Lord, then talking as it were to himself—then once more addressing the LORD again. Such is the consistency and constancy of the prayer life of David in these recorded examples that at times he even seems to include others in his conversation with his LORD. It provides the evidence that prayer to David was a vital and normal part of living and it should be way for we believers today.

The LORD Jesus Christ taught His disciples that they ought always to pray and not to faint. The apostle Paul reminded the church at Thessalonica that we are to pray without ceasing and he explained to the church at Rome that we very often do not know what we should pray for, as we ought. Now we ought to know how to pray and we ought to know what to pray for, but it is sadly true that we very often known neither. Somehow, Christians have a difficult time comprehending that we learn to pray even as we learned to walk and to talk. That is, we learn by doing. No one should expect to know how to pray in the hours of tragedy and heavy burden when she or he has not prayed during the good times, the times of the ease. If a Christian wants to know how to pray when prayer is desperately needed, that Christian must pray when it is "optional." In other words, if a father wants to be able to pray effectively with the baby is sick, he had better begin to pray when the baby is well. Not only do we not know how to pray but also the apostle specifically says we do not know “what we should pray for” [Romans 8:26]. How easy it is for us to think that we know our needs and our desires better than anyone else does and so we alone know exactly what we should pray for, but the word of God makes a clear we often do not.

Tragically, many believers treat prayer as if it were an activity much like placing orders through a mail order catalogue. The Almighty God of Heaven is treated as if He were a “wish granting genie” or Cinderella's fairy godmother. The vast majority of those who claim to be Christians have no concept no understanding of the character or the nature of God. I fear indeed that many are so contaminated with the ungodly concept that God is an old man much like the character portrayed by Hollywood when George Burns was cast in the role of god. The kindly, weakened and frail, old and decrepit, vice-ridden, irreverent, wish-granting, almost senile grandfather only somewhat involved in the affairs of the world is not a Bible portrayal of the God of Heaven.

The holiness of God is so rarely mentioned from the pulpits as to be irrelevant, if not actually nonexistent in the minds of the people. Over the last fifty years, I have heard multiplied dozens of sermons based upon Isaiah six but I can recall only one that focused upon the holiness of God. The "here am I, send me" only came after Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up and had a comprehension of the holiness of God. It was only because Isaiah met the thrice-holy JEHOVAH that Isaiah was willing to volunteer to serve the Lord. When the character of God is misunderstood, then prayer cannot be understood. This disrespect has led to the excesses of the so-called word of faith movement. The very concept of a mortal being daring to command the Eternal Supreme Being, the holy God of Heaven, is blasphemy. The Lord God of Heaven does not serve at our beck and call, to answer our summons as His duty in existence. To claim that men and women have creative power equal with deity in their words is heresy. To say that prayer is speaking "worlds" into existence is the doctrine of devils not biblical truth. Some Baptist preachers have come very close to this heresy in their insistence that prayer is just asking and the answer to prayer is always receiving. Some sermons certainly give the impression that there is such "power in prayer" that miracles are

guaranteed. This has led to disenchantment with prayer and discouragement in people. Those who pray, even sincere believers, with the expectation or intent of ordering God to do something most assuredly do not know how to pray nor what to pray for.

Sometimes not knowing what to pray for is the unavoidable result of not knowing the word of God as it relates to the particular situation in our life. It is a waste of time, and I believe sinful in nature, to pray for something that the word of God condemns or that violates the word of God. This however has not stopped multitudes from sincerely praying that God would bless a program or an activity that is clearly contrary to the recorded will of God. Most Christians express a desire to know the will of God, yet it seems many of those Christians have never realized that the Bible is the record of the revealed will of God. Consistent Bible study will greatly improve our prayer life as well as save us from buckets of tears and years of regret.

Other times we pray for things that we sincerely want and, at that moment, it seems to be quite appropriate. However later on we find ourselves grateful that God did not give us that for which we prayed. And I write this with sadness, I as many others have sometimes prayed very foolishly. The old nature being as it is and being ever present with us it is not very difficult for any of us to convince ourselves we are praying with sincerity, spirituality, and even in accordance with Scripture when we are in reality "asking amiss that we might consume it upon our own lusts." Some of our prayers are very carnal, even worldly. It does not take much reflection to realize Christians do pray fallible prayers—prayers that are frail, faulty, and even foolish.

Thus, I have a most serious question to pose, "how does the infallible God answer our fallible prayers?"

May we at the beginning of our discussion understand that the heavenly Father knows our weakness and

"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all." (Psalm 103:13-19).

For the child of God, no doctrine concerning the character of God is more comforting than the doctrine of His sovereignty. I am not a Calvinist—not even a one pointer—but I rejoice to know that the LORD “ruleth over all” even over my faulty prayers. I am grateful that He answers my prayers and yours in His mercy and through His grace and not in accordance with my instructions.

Please take serious note of the precise wording in Romans chapter 8, verses 26 and 27:

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Notice the last clause of verse 27. The Holy Spirit makes intercession for us when "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." They Holy Spirit makes His intercession "according to the will of God." You and I are not always certain, even when we truly desire to know, exactly what the will of God is for us, but the omniscient Holy Spirit always knows. The simplicity of this truth should be of the greatest comfort to

every believer. With this passage as our context, let us explore our theme: How does the infallible God of heaven answer our fallible prayers?

While you and I could each produce ample examples of our own personal faulty prayers, to examine each provided illustration would consume more time than is possible to give, I believe the greatest profit, therefore, would be to examine such a prayer as found in scripture. Several passages come to mind, but an example found in the book of Job comes very close to home. We have the prayer, the context of the prayer, and the record of the answer to that prayer. It is strange but not many people ever consider that the book of Job is largely a book of prayers. It is and there are many prayers recorded in this book. Remember, the simplest definition of prayer is “talking to God.”

As to the context of the specific prayer that we are to consider, I believe you are well aware of the general situation of Job. (1) He has lost his family and nearly all of his possessions through what your insurance policy would describe as ‘acts of God.’ (2) He has lost the rest of his wealth through the wickedness of sinful men. (3) He has lost his health because of the actual touch of Satan. A touch permitted by the very God of Heaven that Job worships. He has four male servants and some servant maids left and a wife. They live in his house (Job 19:15, 16) and ignore him. Job lives in the communal garbage dump and scratches his own sore ridden body. His friends and family have forgotten him (19:14, 19) and cannot stand to even look upon him. Even little children mock him (19:18). Job has decided that, though he will serve God even if God chooses to slay him, he does indeed desire that God would get it over with. Three close in heart, but distant in geography, friends come to comfort him. These were good men and they loved Job. It is a rich man indeed who will have three friends who will come to his side when all is lost and everyone else has closed the door. The bulk of Job is the record of the attempt of these men to encourage Job and to restore him to where God can again bless him. It never crosses their minds (as it usually does not cross ours) that adversity often has a greater spiritual purpose than chastisement. “Tribulation worketh patience” and “ye, have heard of the patience of Job.”

We enter the story in chapter 5, verses 17 through 27, where Eliphaz the Temanite, is concluding his comments to Job.

"Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season. Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good."

Now what this good man said to Job was true. David will repeat some of the things and so will both Paul and James. However, he is delivering this message to a man who has lost everything and for whom, in his present state, the message provides no hope, and who, at the moment, has no way to relate to the truth. It was a message to the wrong congregation. The words of Eliphaz the Temanite merely serve to make the despondency of Job even greater.

As Job responds, he opens his heart and reveals his secret prayer. (Job 6:8-10) "Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for!

Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One."

Job desires that God would take his life, speaking of this request as "the thing that I long for." Job says that he could harden himself in his present sorrow, be able to endure it, and have a measure of comfort if he just knew that God was going to destroy him. He wanted an end, if not a purpose, to his troubles. How often we desire the finishing of the difficulties more that we aspire for the accomplishment of the purpose of God for our lives.

It is very important for us to notice that he prays this prayer in a context of faith. He refers to the "words of the Holy One." This is not the only time in the book of Job that the book of Job refers to the words of God (22:22, 23:5, 12). Though I do not understand all this involves, it is beyond question that Job and his friends had access to words of God, knew they were the words of God and ‘esteemed’ those words. It should be noted that this was all long before Moses ever wrote, "in the beginning." It is quite evident that God has never "left himself without witness." He has indeed had "his holy prophets, which have been since the world began." When one reads the book of Job it becomes clear that Job knew about creation, knew the name of the LORD (JEHOVAH), knew about Providence, knew much about nature, knew about conception, knew about sin, knew about sacrifice, knew about redemption, knew about resurrection, and knew about faith. And remember, this was all before Moses ever wrote a single word. Job was expecting to see his Redeemer face-to-face, in the flesh, on this earth, in the latter days. Therefore, his prayer is not the prayer of hostility toward God nor is it the prayer of a man who has no concept of the goodness of God. Realize this. Job, with all the faults we might assign him, is a man of faith, a true believer.

His prayer, foolish as we might recognize it to be, was a prayer offered in faith to the God that Job knew had answered his prayers in past days. Job continues to open his heart and reveal more of his prayer life. (Job 7:16-21) Of his life, he says,

"I loathe it; I would not live alway: let me alone; for my days are vanity. What is man, that thou shouldest magnify him? and that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him? And that thou shouldest visit him every morning, and try him every moment? How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle? I have sinned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? why hast thou set me as a mark against thee, so that I am a burden to myself? And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."

The words seem quite harsh, but do not forget they were uttered, with reverence and in a context of faith, even if Job did not understand God's will. "Let me alone." Again, the words seem harsh and I do not try to soften them. Job was telling God to leave him alone. He was tired of life. He felt he was being unfairly tried. He felt he did not deserve the things that had befallen him. Even so, he was ready to die, knowing he would be resurrected. The man was tired of his suffering. He was saying, "God, just leave me alone and let me die."

A despondency ever deeper shows itself (Job 9:30-35)”

"If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me: Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me."

Job has come to feel that, for some unfathomable reason, God has taken a delight in causing Job to endure troubles. God, in Job’s disturbing reasoning, seems to

throw him in a ditch just to see him get dirty. This is the action of a bully. Job is thoroughly confused and continues to demonstrate this perverted view.

(Job 10:1-20) "My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. I will say unto God, Do not condemn me; show me wherefore thou contendest with me. Is it good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise the work of thine hands, and shine upon the counsel of the wicked? Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth? Are thy days as the days of man? are thy years as man's days, That thou inquirest after mine iniquity, and searchest after my sin? Thou knowest that I am not wicked; and there is none that can deliver out of thine hand. Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit. And these things hast thou hid in thine heart: I know that this is with thee. If I sin, then thou markest me, and thou wilt not acquit me from mine iniquity. If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction; For it increaseth. Thou huntest me as a fierce lion: and again thou showest thyself marvellous upon me. Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and increasest thine indignation upon me; changes and war are against me. Wherefore then hast thou brought me forth out of the womb? Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had seen me! I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave. Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,"

He comes to the place where he decides that God cannot understand his personal needs because God does not know what it is to be a human with all the trials and burdens of human life. So he tells God that “Since, you do not understand me because you are not like me, just leave me alone.” In Job’s thinking, God has no eyes flesh to ache and throb, no hands to be blistered, no feet to be sore, no tongue to be parched, no body to be pain wracked. Thus, God cannot understand. So, Job prays that God would leave him alone, let him die so he can rise again and see his redeemer. This is a frail, foolish, fallible prayer—even so, it is offered in faith.

Prayer for the child of God should be as natural and as much a part of life as is breathing, eating, walking, or talking. Though I do not wish to minimize the necessity of reverence, prayer is after all just talking with God. Though it must never be frivolous or lightly taken prayer is talking to God. We must never forget who He is and who we are; therefore, we must always approach Him with the reverence, the respect, and the fear due Him. Then, we also must never forget that He has invited us to approach Him—He has even encouraged us to come boldly before His throne. It is wise to notice that it is stated ‘boldly,” not brashly or brazenly. Job will need to be corrected as to what was wrong with his prayer and instructed as to how to pray properly. However, Job is not rebuked for the act of praying, instead his prayer is answered.

How does the infallible God of heaven answer this fallible prayer of Job? How can the Holy Spirit make intercession to the Father on the behalf of Job according to the will of God? God gave Job what he needed not what Job wanted. God answered the fallible prayer of Job by sending His only begotten Son to die for Job so that Job could indeed see his Redeemer face to face.

The Son of God, Who knelt in the Garden and formed man of the dust of the ground—whose “hands have fashioned me together round about” (Job 10:8) was the answer to Job’s prayer. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God was manifested in the flesh. He “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be

equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. The very One Who had made man in his likeness was fashioned in the likeness of man that He might become the infallible answer to a very fallible prayer.

Let you and I take comfort. Our prayers are frail, feeble, and fallible, but our Father which art in Heaven hears our prayers, remembers our frame that we are but dust, and answers in grace, with tender mercy. The infallible God of Heaven has the ability to answer the fallible prayers of His earthly children.

—Pastor Manley