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Supplementary notes to Psalm 4 on guidance, God’s will and prayer

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Those who receive our Sunday Bible studies are unable, of course, to take part in the usually intense and varied discussions we have during the study itself at Manselton Church. This short article is about one of the topics we discussed, spilling over from a similar one last Sunday. It is about God answering prayer; in particular, how He answers prayer. Though I have examined this many times and in several long articles, there is always another aspect to the matter!

 For example, one thing I spoke of on Sunday was the need to ‘think outside the box’. We are human beings, created and limited, whilst God is uncreated, unlimited (except by His own will), and nothing like us.

In effect it means that when we pray we are objects made by God trying to make contact with our Creator, Who lives in Heaven, a realm we do not understand or know about, except for the small snatches we have in scripture. Heaven, the abode of God, is NOT in our universe, or any universe, all of which is created matter. It is, literally, somewhere else. It is even possible that the spiritual realm cuts right through our material realm, being of entirely different ‘material’ (if we can use that word).

With this in mind, human beings can only think sequentially and with knowledge of what we see, hear, taste, etc. We cannot think about what we do not know exists, cannot think about what is future in our lives because it has not yet happened, and must think within our human time scale. We can think backwards to what has already occurred, but cannot assimilate what has not yet happened. We can certainly make guesses, but these are without the anchor of actuality.

On the other hand, God is not like us! He does not even ‘think’ in the human sense of the word! We think sequentially because we live in time. God does not because He is in eternity… He sees and knows everything ‘out of sequence’ because he sees all things at one time. We can only think within very limited boundaries because we do not know everything – but God does.

God does not ‘think’ in the usual sense, because He knows everything all the time, with all conclusions and paths. He has no emotions, because everything He says and does is perfect and does not change Him.

So, when we pray, what are we doing? We are telling God what He already knows! Every word, every faltering step, every tear, every bit of anger or frustration… He knows about it before we do.

More importantly, we pray from human existence in time, but He listens and responds from eternity, the spiritual realm. When He listens, He knows what He will hear! His response (or not) depends on what He wishes to do… and what He wishes is predetermined by Himself in eternity (even the word ‘predetermined’ is not correct). Indeed, the term “what He wishes to do” is irrelevant, because God’s actions are all fixed in eternity and cannot change.

Therefore, when we pray genuinely, from a godly heart, we are returning to Him in Heaven those things He wants us to say to Him, as a sign of our obedience and faith. When He hears the evidence of that obedience and faith, His response is assured… and whichever answer applies is already known and determined by Him. For us it is a mystery, but to God it is His plan.

Prayer and God’s responses, then, are a mixture of what cannot logically be mixed – yet it happens anyway. God requires us to send up our prayers. He sees us in our travails and grief, our emotional turmoils and earthly upsets. He hears everything we say, sees everything we do, and knows everything in our mind and heart. Nothing is a surprise to Him. That outburst we blurt out is already known; that anger we express is already known; that fear we admit to is already known; that praise we sing is already known. Get the picture?

The twists and turns in our lives and in circumstances have clearly plotted paths in God’s eyes. He knows the outcome even before we know of a situation! If we are godly in our lives He promises to respond with a good answer. That is what Psalm 4 is saying. He wants to do us good… so when we are godly, any prayer we utter will be given to us to pray in the first place. Thus, because we have repeated His own words faithfully, He will answer, because they are His own words, evidence of our faith.

Because His realm is heaven, a spiritual dimension, His answer will likewise be heavenly. It might come in a fashion we consider to be ‘direct’… ask A and we receive B. But, because it is God’s mind, the answer may easily be something entirely different, with no apparent link to what we have asked. This is because God is manoeuvring all kinds of elements to move us forward along His path, not our own.

If we are living godly lives He WILL answer… that is the main point. But, the answer may not be what we want it to be, or what we expect it to be. We might want B in answer to A, but God, in His wisdom, moves us from A to R, then to D, then to Z and then to B. Very often many lives are touched by what happens to our own life, and we tend to forget that. The ‘good’ we seek should be God’s good, not our own. Though we might fear or grieve, the answer we seek should not just be our own comfort, but the path God has set for us in eternity. To us the path might seem awful, or tearful… but all along God is moving us forward in His plan.

The godly man or woman need only act normally. If it seems God is not providing us with an answer, then that, in itself is an answer. This is because, if we are living godly lives, anything we do is good and spiritually sound. We might not hear the sudden voice of God, or have a very direct answer, but the fact that we move forward in our decisions is enough. God will let us move forward on the path we choose, because if we are living godly lives, the path we choose is bound to be the right one. No need to be anxious or wonder what God is doing… He has already done it by making us holy and godly! All we need to do is move forward, knowing that the decisions we make are His, already determined in eternity. As we continue to be godly, so God will allow us to move forward along His path. That, friends, is the answer to our prayer, the absence of failure being a proof.


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Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
United Kingdom