From the Colson Center audience:
“I’ve often been asked to pray for elderly folks to beat this or that ailment or disease. I’m always surprised that Christians are not more comfortable with their death or the death of Christians around them. In my heart I always pray, ‘Thy will be done,’ but I feel the person requesting the prayer is really not thinking this way. How should I pray? How can I encourage acceptance versus constant and even at times, obsessive medical intervention?”
The Colson Center responds:
In The Magician’s Nephew, my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia, where Diggory realizes that he could have had some additional help or direction on his way to fulfill this task that Aslan has set him on, he says something like, “Well, why didn’t Aslan help? He knows all this stuff. Why didn’t he prepare us ahead of time and give us what we needed?” Then one of the other characters responds, “Well I’m sure that if you’d asked, he would have. I have a feeling that he likes to be asked, but you didn’t.”
This is the most beautiful thing that I’ve learned about the gospel in the last few years. We don’t have to speculate about what that looks like. We have a model for it. We can look to Jesus and the way He behaved and the way He prayed and the way He lived, because He is the perfect human.
He is our exemplar for figuring all these complicated questions out. What did He do? He prayed for something that He knew in His divinity was contrary to God’s will. Yet He still prayed for it because He was a man, because He was suffering, and He was afraid.
One of J.I. Packer’s great insights in Knowing God is his devotion to the doctrine of adoption. God as our Father understands our needs. He understands our suffering and our pain. He’s not annoyed when we come to Him with requests that He doesn’t intend to answer in the way that we’re asking them. He still wants us to ask them.
I also believe that our prayers are the means of His bringing about His will. We see this demonstrated again and again in Scripture. When Peter’s in jail, what is it that releases him and causes the chains to fall off of him? It’s the prayers of the saints. It’s because of all of those who loved him and wanted to see him released, they prayed for him.
God could have done that without their prayers, but He chose to use their prayers as the means to accomplish that. So, it’s a very complicated and mysterious and beautiful subject, but I don’t think our listeners should have any fear to pray fervently for the heart’s desires and then trust God with the outcome.
Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series where Colson Center staff respond to questions and comments from our audience. If Christianity is true, as we say it is, then Christians should be willing and able to offer what Francis Schaeffer called “honest answers to honest questions.”
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