“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11).
Since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, the Lord has made clear that a Savior will come to rescue all mankind (Gen 3:15). Moses prophesied of the coming of “God’s prophet” (Gen 18:15; Acts 3:18-26).
For hundreds of years, every prophet of Israel prophesied of the Messiah to come. Then Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist) prophetically declares his son’s role as announcing the coming of the Messiah (Lk 2:76-79); and Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit, looks upon the Messiah as a babe and prophecies over Him (Lk 2:25-35).
I wonder how many prayers had gone up before God’s throne asking for the Messiah to come? How many centuries had passed from the events of the Garden to the day of Christ’s birth? Yet God chose just the right moment for the “Hope Of All Ages” to appear and fulfill His eternal purpose (Gal 4:4-7).
What can we know absolutely from this millennia-long sequence of events? That God always hears and answers the prayers of those who seek Him!
Even when our prayers seem weak, faithless or confused, God hears and receives them. He is interested in the content of our prayers – but He is far more interested in the content of our hearts.
We, however, are usually most interested in getting an answer (especially the one we want) from God. And God does answer our prayers – in His perfect time and way. He is the only One who can answer our prayers, for He alone is God (Isaiah Chapter 45). He knows what is best for us, especially as it concerns His loving transformational work in our hearts.
God has heard and answered the prayers of mankind since He created man. God’s answers usually fit into four general categories, examples of which can be read in both the Old and New Testaments.
1. “No” – This answer comes when our request is, for some reason, not in alignment with the will of God.
OT – 2 Samuel 12:15,16, 22,23
NT – Matthew 26:36-39; Acts 16:6-10
2. “Slow” – God’s will has a “what” and a “when.” His timing may not be the same as ours, but it is always perfect.
OT – Genesis 15:2-6, 21:2
NT – John 11:3,6, 14-17, 43, 44
3. “Grow” – Our motives and heart need further transformation so that we are prepared for His answer.
OT – Numbers 13:26-45
NT – James 4:3
4. “Go” – This means that our prayer – and the timing and our spiritual condition – are ready and in line with His perfect will and desire for us – Yes!
OT – 1 Kings 18:41-45 (cf. James 5:17,18)
NT – Acts 12:5-7, 12-17
So we can – and should – pray with all confidence and boldness! Let us persevere in our supplications, trusting that the God of the universe hears us and will answer us according to His best and highest.