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When God Doesn’t Come Through

• Greg Boyd

Anna was a woman who dedicated her life to prayer and fasting. She understood how prayer works in our complex world. As followers of God, we know that prayer is powerful and effective. However, it can sometimes be difficult to have faith that prayer really makes a difference, especially when our prayers are not answered in the ways we expect. It is important to consider how to reconcile our disappointments with the scriptural promises of prayer.

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One factor in our view of the effectiveness of prayer is revealed through our understanding of the Bible. Most biblical promises are principles, not formulas. A principle is a belief that we live by, not a guaranteed outcome. Throughout scripture, we are shown that many factors affect prayer. These factors influence how our prayers affect the world (Daniel 10:12-13, Mark 9:28-29). As human beings, we have no way of knowing how our prayers ultimately impact the world.

Through faith, we know that prayer makes a difference. Faith is the “substance of things hoped for” (Hebrews 11), not necessarily things yet realized. Prayer is believing, through faith, that God hears our desires and will answer us. By faith, we know that whatever the outcome, our prayers make a difference. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (James 5:16).

No matter what the outcome of our prayers, we can be assured that God loves and cares for us. God’s love and compassion for us is revealed in Jesus Christ. Throughout the trials of life, God is with us and can bring comfort and healing to our weary souls. We are never alone, even if heaven “seems” silent.

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Topics: Faith, Prayer

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 2:36-38

    There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then had been a widow for eighty-four years. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

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