I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock .... Psalms 40:1-2a
Over the years I have seen the Lord answer prayer in ways which a reasonable person would have to describe as being "miraculous."
Of course, there was that one time when He didn't.
That occasion was precipitated by a third-grade child whom I met in our school hallway. Normally, a smiling, happy individual, this day the boy was anything but. I asked him if he was okay and, if not, was there anything I could do.
He said, "Pastor, I've been praying about Tokyo. Would you pray for Tokyo, too?"
While I was surprised to find one of our youngsters had a giant Japanese city on his prayer list, I agreed. A meeting stopped me from asking any more questions at that time. About an hour later I sought the boy out and asked, "About that Tokyo prayer ... can you tell me what I'm supposed to be praying about?"
With a bit of strain in his voice, the boy said, "Pastor, today was our geography test, and we're praying that Tokyo is the capital of France." I left it to his teacher to break the bad news; the Lord hadn't moved oriental Tokyo to the heart of Europe.
That being said, the fact still stands: God answers prayer. To that end I would like you to take another look at our text for today. Look at the first verse where three things are stated about prayer.
First, it says we wait patiently for the Lord. Christian prayers are not like those State Farm commercials you see on TV. You know the ones: "Like a good neighbor, our God is there." Say the words and poof! God appears. There are times when God, for reasons of His own, delays responding. But that doesn't mean He doesn't care. He does and He also answers prayer, which takes us to the second point.
In the Psalm it says God "inclined (Himself) to me." What a beautiful picture. The all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the Universe ... the Individual who called all things into being with a Word, leans forward on His heavenly throne. And what motivates God's leaning? It's nothing less than you and your request. So much does God want to hear your prayer, He leans forward to give you His undivided attention, which takes us to third point.
That's the point where God hears our cry and responds. True, God's response to our prayer does not always mean He gives us what we want. No parent -- divine or human -- is going to give a little one everything that shows up on the child's wish list. Doing so would be too dangerous to contemplate.
No, the loving Father in heaven, having inclined Himself to listen, responds as a true and loving Father. He gives us what we ask for, or He gives us something better.
We may ask for wealth, He may give us the wisdom to get along with what we have. We may ask for healing, He gives us heaven. God gives us what we ask for ... or something better.
It's something you can count on.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks You hear my prayers and respond in the most appropriate and loving way. May I give thanks for the Savior who has made these prayers hearable. Further, keep me patiently waiting, eyes opened, so I may see and give thanks for Your response. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries