Since we relocated to Memphis six months ago, our family has had no kitchen table. We had diligently saved up funds several times only to have unexpected expenditures snatch them back away. Because I cook nearly every night and gathering around the kitchen table to eat is an important part of our family life, I began praying that God would provide a table for us. We spent last week visiting with friends and as we packed up to go, our friend asked offhandedly, "You don't need a kitchen table, do you?" After my very enthusiastic, "Yes. This a a definite answer to prayer.", he went on to explain that he had tried to sell this table in a garage sale a number of times but his wife had resisted because she was certain God had a special plan in mind for the table. She could not have been more right. Our entire family has glowed with gratitude to God every time we have passed that table since. Now I just need to start praying for some chairs...
Today's reading is from John, Chapter 16. Jesus is continuing in His final teaching prior to His death. Jesus forewarns the disciples about the hardships that are to come. Jesus relates that they will be discouraged, scattered, persecuted and even killed. Thankfully, Jesus ends with the good news - they will pray to God, be heard, and answered! At times, I forget what a privilege it is that I have open access to the Creator of the Universe. He never gets drowsy if I drone on and on about a problem, never mentally tunes me out but instead listens with love and compassion. Not only that but He is actually able to assist me with my problems. Whether it's changing my heart to better understand another, miraculously providing for my family or just removing anxiety and worry, big things happen when I pray.
From Chapter 14-16, Jesus tells the disciples four different times (John 14:13, John 14:14, John 15:7, John 16:23) that God will give them whatever they ask in His name. I know my Jesus well enough to understand this doesn't mean that I can go about willie nillie asking for things and expecting instantaneous results as if God were my genie in a bottle. So what does this mean and why did Jesus repeatedly say times?
What it Means - God desires a close relationship with every one of us. Closeness in any relationship is developed over a long span of time in conversation, in proximity and in authenticity. God wants me to ask Him about everything in my life not because He will immediately answer exactly when and how I want Him to but because the time I spend talking closely with Him about the very real issues in my life will draw me closer to Him while I wait for His answers whatever they might be.
Why God Repeats Himself - I have a tendency to look everywhere except to God to get answers to questions and problems. It seems easier to ask a friend, read an online article or read a book than to spend diligent time in prayer talking to God about my life. This could be for a number of reasons but two that immediately spring to my mind is convenience and lack of accountability. It is inconvenient to wait on God and continue to seek Him when I'm not really seeing answers to my prayers. I also have much less accountability with a friend or reading on a subject. It is much more difficult to ignore God's quiet guidance in my life when I'm talking to Him instead of another source about my issues.
Jesus wants us to approach the Father with everything in our life, because He loves to see us overflow with joy. According to Verse 24, joy is the end result of answered prayer. If a simple kitchen table can bring so much joy to so many family members, I am certain this is true.
Jesus, thank you for always hearing my prayers and working out Your answers in ways I would never expect. The unspeakable joy of answered prayer has filled our home once more. Today, may I come to you first with every issue and wait in confident expectation to see Your work in my life.