The pain and glory of unanswered prayer

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me…”

alluaudia-procera-spice-plant-branch-38282Few things can be more confusing or frustrating for Christians than unanswered prayer, especially when we’re sure there are good, obvious reasons for God to grant our requests.

Recently I spoke to a good friend, a young man in (what should be) the prime of his life. Sadly, he’s afflicted with mysterious and chronic back pain. He’s tried every kind of medical treatment under the sun, and has persistently and faithfully prayed for relief. Yet his debilitating pain persists—unseen by most people, yet severe enough to prevent any real exercise and make everything in life difficult and uncomfortable.

My friend told me that he recently accepted an invitation to attend a large healing service. As the meeting went on and as many people appeared to be miraculously healed right before his eyes, my friend started to hope for a miracle of his own. “Maybe tonight’s the night,” he thought. “Maybe my suffering comes to an end—right here, right now.” Continue reading

31 Days of Prayer: Day 29 – Don’t Give Up, Don’t Ever Give Up

Persevere“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

Would you be relieved to know that Jesus understood prayer is hard work? Would you be encouraged to know he taught a parable specifically designed for people who were tempted to lose heart when it came to prayer? Me too!

The opening words of the parable in Luke 18 fill me with enormous hope. Jesus knew that prayer would be a struggle, and he told a parable to address this struggle. In this parable, Jesus describes a ‘persistent widow’ coming before a judge – a man who neither fears God nor respects man – to seek justice against her adversary. After initially refusing her request, the unrighteous judge relents, giving her justice so he won’t be beaten down ‘by her continual coming’. Jesus then makes his point: “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:6-8) Continue reading

Persevering in Evangelism: Reflections on a godly stranger

Don’t give up sharing your faith in Jesus, even when it seems like a waste of time

Beautiful FeetOver the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about Russell. Not Russell from Up! (probably my favourite Russell); not ‘evil Russell’ from Survivor (probably my least favourite Russell); and not the short, freckly kid who thought it would be funny to climb the tallest tree at school and tie my bag up there when I was in Year 9 (probably somewhere in between the other two Russells).

The Russell I’ve been thinking about is a man who changed my life. But I don’t even know his last name, and I met him just once, more than 15 years ago. Continue reading