A reader recently asked me some great questions, and I would like to share those questions and my answers with you, brethren.
First question: "Do you think that as believers that we can give a time to our prayers being answered as Elisha did and many other saints?"
My answer: Yes. I believe that if the Bible shows us where it's been done before by His servants (under the Old Covenant) or His children (under the New Covenant), then it's possible that we could "give a time to our prayers being answered." Remember, the manifested power of God can only come by way of the Holy Spirit. With that having been said, let's ask ourselves the question: "Where is the Holy Spirit?"
Now, let's answer our own question: "He is within the heart of every believer, every Christian." Thus, the Holy Spirit is here in the earth, living inside of us, the saints of God. Again, God's power, again, is demonstrated through us as we are "endued with power from on High (Luke 24:49)."
The Holy Spirit is here to help us do what we couldn't otherwise do in the time that we need something to happen. Let me add this: There are times when I've laid hands on the sick and they've recovered instantly (Matthew 10:1). And then there have been times when I've laid hands on the sick, praying for instant recovery, yet it came over a period of time rather than instantly (Mark 4:28,29).
So, I believe that sometimes we can pray for things, according to God's will, and we get full manifestation of those prayers answered instantly. And there are times we expect instant manifestations, but they come over a course of time. So, sometimes, what you're believing God for is instant. Sometimes, it's a "process" (of waiting; and learning to be patient).
As for God answering prayers "when he wants to answer them." Let's remember that it is God who gives us the prayer to pray, in the first place. It is often said that "God will give you the desires of your heart." People have a tendency to say that, and what they mean is that if you tell God what you want, He'll give it to you (as if He didn't know before you made your request).
The reality, however, is that God literally gives you (meaning us generally) the thought. He places a thought in your heart and says, by His Spirit, ask Me for this. But by the time the request rolls off our tongue, it goes out into the spirit realm sounding like this: "Father, I pray to you for (this thing), in the name of Jesus." Then He answers that prayer, thus giving us the desires of our heart.
The key to receiving blessings like that, or answered prayers, is knowing what to pray and how to pray. It's living a life of consecration (total, 100% devotion to God). It is possible to pray to God for something that is not His will for our lives. And I don't mean praying for Him to extend the life of a sick loved one only to have them die anyway. For that is NOT His will. His will is for us to live long, satisfied lives, free of sickness and disease. But we must remember that there is a devil out there looking for every opportunity to attack the believer in his health or any other way he can (1st Peter 5:8,9).
So, we've got to live consecrated lifestyles, totally devoted to keeping the Lord's commandments and obeying His statutes.
Here's what I mean: We can't be "single" folks shedding tears of joy during the praise and worship portion of church service, leave church and go and "fornicate" with somebody on the low-low. We can't be "married" folks functioning as ushers in the church, yet having "love affairs" on the side. We can't be shackin' up and thinkin' that God is OK with it. We can't be judgmental of other people because they have weaknesses where we're strong. We can't do those kinds of things, and then pray to God and expect for Him to answer our prayers instantly or otherwise, or we're only kidding ourselves.
I can go on and on until the break of dawn that things we as Christians do on a daily basis to impede what God wants to do in our lives (like answering our prayers). Don't get me wrong: One can live as holy as he (or she) possibly can while being clad in flesh and blood. Yet pray for something good, and not see it come to pass. For that, I'd simply say that Deuteronomy 29:29 talks about how God reveals many things to His people; yet there are still many things that only He knows.
That having been said: Let's not get caught up in when we'll see a manifestation of our prayers answered or if we'll see it. Let's just believe God that when we pray according to His will, He hears us (and He answers). Amen?
The next question I was asked: "So if I decree that I will be married this year, is that unbibilical?"
Answer: I wouldn't go as far as to call it "unbiblical." I will say as I've just stated, much of what you ask depends a lot on you and how you're living your life. First, is there any active "sin" in your life, something that you're doing against God's will and haven't yet been delivered from or reckoned to be dead in your life? And if there isn't any sin in your life, and you are devoted to God, then my next question is: Are there any past hurts, or emotional wounds, that you have that haven't quite healed yet? Again, if the answer to either of these questions is "yes," then you'll find that in order to get God's blessing on a marriage rooted in Him, you must first deal with those issues.
Oh, sure, we can get married (yet still have all that baggage), but then how long can that marriage last? Especially when God hasn't set His seal of approval on it. Ya know?
Now: If your answer is "no" to both questions: There is no sin in your life (at least none that hasn't been repented of), and there is no emotional wounds that hasn't healed, then I'd say expect God to bless you with a husband. The key is praying with expectations, the expectations that God has heard you and that He, like He says in His Word, will withhold no good thing from you (Psalm 84:11).
Remember, too: I won't go as far as to tell you NOT to declare and decree a manifested husband of your own within a year, BUT I will recommend that you just continue to consecrate yourself in God's presence, let your petition be known to Him and expect Him to bless you with the husband He has for you. Now, can it happen by the end of 2009? Certainly. Is that something that sounds like a good idea (to me) for you to do? Perhaps not. Here's why: We, because we're human, have a tendency to rush things or to get ahead of God.
SCENARIO: If God were to say: "Daughter, I'm going to bless you with a husband by the end of the year." Be honest with yourself: Wouldn't the "human", "fleshly" side of you be always on the lookout, askin' God: "Is HE the one, Lord?" "Lord, is it HIM!!!?" "Lord, I KNOW this is the one right here, Lord!!!"
You see what I'm saying? In other words, the human side of you would take God's promise to you and you'll start using your deductive reasoning, especially as you get closer to the 12th month, the month that your blessing should manifest, if it hadn't happened earlier.
So, then what you can possibly do is jump the gun and marry somebody who is not God's will for your life, and then you're BEGGING God to get you out of that "hell" of a marriage. That's how Ishmael came about. God promised Abraham and Sarah an Isaac. But they got antsy and decided God was moving too slow, and took matters into their own hands. And that's how Ishmael was produced, outside of God's will.
Well, saints of God, thanks for tuning in to another week of this column. I pray that something said this week has been a blessing to you in whatever issue that concerns you. Be blessed.
The Rev. Donald Lee, founder-pastor of Kingdom Living Christian Center in Beaumont, Texas, a nondenominational, multi-ethnic, word of faith ministry, can be reached for prayer or comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach him at (225) 773-2248 to book him for speaking engagements or to request his reporting/editing media services.