The Return of Prayer: But if God gives you an answer, and you don’t want to listen…

Taken and adapted from, “The Return of Prayers.”
Written by Thomas Goodwin, Puritan
Edited for dynamic thought and sense

7d0ed581-186e-42bc-ba26-3e8d3f79d2baBut if God gives you an answer, and if you don’t want to listen…

…you let God speak to you in vain, because you are not listening to what he has to tell you. If two men are walking along, and if one has spoken what’s on his mind but ignores the other man’s answers, he greatly insults the man.

Now if you want to study God’s dealings with us, do so by comparing our prayers with his answers; that is, by our speaking to God in prayer, and his speaking to us by way of answers. Why? Because  in essence, these dialogues between us and him comprise the greater part of our walk with God. It is said of Samuel’s prophecy, “that not a word of it fell to the ground,” 1 Sam.3:19; and so it may be said of our prayers; and so it ought to be of God’s answers as well; not a word of them should fall to the ground.

Now in 1 Kings, 8:56, it is said,”there hath not failed one word of all his good promises.” Solomon had observed this by painstaking survey, and by making comparisons of all which God had spoken and done for them, and he found not one promise unfulfilled.

 And so Solomon brings these exact words here for a very specific purpose: to confirm their faith in this, that no prayers would fail, if grounded on a promise. 

This was done to encourage others, and to even encourage his own heart to diligence. And it was also done as a motive for God to hear him; for in verse 59, he infers,”Let my words be nigh thee,” seeing you always thus perform your good word unto your people. Yes, if you don’t listen, you will provoke the Lord to not answer at all; he will forbear to answer, because he sees that talking to you will be in complete vain.

When a man is talking to someone that’s not listening, he will cease to talk, and completely leave off communicating, and so will God.

The Return of Prayer: Observing the Answers to Our Prayers

Taken and adapted from, “The Return of Prayers.”
Written by Thomas Goodwin, Puritan
Edited for thought and sense

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images (1)“I will hear what God the LORD will speak:
for he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.”

–Psalm 85:8

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God’s people are diligently to observe the answers to their prayers: And herein are the reasons of why.
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images (8)The observation is this: that when a man has put up prayers to God…

He is to rest assured, that God will in mercy answer his prayers; and he is to listen diligently, and observe how his prayers are answered. “I will hear what God will speak,” that is, how he will accomplish them; and withal, he confidently expresses an assurance, that “God will speak peace.” Thus does the church, “I will look to the Lord, I will wait; my God will hear me.” Mich. 7:7, 8.

The church is sure of gracious audience with him, “my God will hear me;” and she will wait till he answers her, and observe how he does it, “I will look to the Lord;” and verse 9, “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, till he plead my cause.” So Habakkuk, having made a prayer against the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar, in the first chapter, having ended it, he begins the second chapter thus, “I will stand upon my watch-tower, and see what he will answer me;” and in the end an answer comes, verse 2. And as he thus waited for a vision (for sometimes their prophecies were in answer to their prayers), so should we for an answer to ours.

Because otherwise you take an ordinance of God in your hearts (Prayer), which is to take God’s name (with whom in that ordinance you deal) in vain; for it is a sign you think your prayer not an effectual means to attain the end it is ordained for; and say secretly in your hearts, as they, “What profit have we, if we pray to him?” Job 21:15. For if we use any means, and expect not the end, it is a sign we think the means not adapted to accomplish that end; whereas, every faithful prayer is ordained of God to be a means to obtain what we desire and pray for, and is not put up in “vain, but shall have answer: “This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he hears us,” 1 John, 5:14, 15.

images (1)It is true, God hears an enemy; but to hear with favour, is the hearing there meant; and thus God’s ears are said to be open to their prayers; and so it follows there, that “If he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him.” As soon as we have prayed, we are said to have our petitions; that is, they are then granted, and we may be confident that they are assented unto by God, although, in regard of outward dispensation the command for accomplishment is not yet come forth; even as a petitioner is said to have his suit, when the word of the king is gone forth that it shall be done, though it passes not the seal, or be not signed until a good while after. And like as when a wicked man sins, as soon as the act is committed, so soon sentence from God goes forth against the sinner, but the execution overtakes him not (it may be) until a good while after.

So no prayer, in respect of an answer to it, is in vain; but where God has given a heart to speak, he has an ear to hear, and loves to return an answer.

The Faith and Strength of Prayer…

Taken from, The Works of Thomas Goodwin, The Return of Prayers, p. 400
Written by Thomas Goodwin
Edited for thought and sense.

imagesRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice… The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.         

                                                                                                        –Philippians 4:4-7, ESV

Men are mistaken in judging of the weakness of their prayers…

…They judge of the weakness of their prayers by their expressions, and gifts in performing them, or by the stirring and overflow of affections; whereas the strength and vigor of prayer should be estimated from the faith, the sincerity, the obedience, the desires expressed in it. As it is not the loudness of a preacher’s voice, but the weight and holiness of the matter, and spirit of the preacher, that move a wise and an intelligent hearer; so not gifts, but graces in prayers are they that move the Lord. The strength of prayer lies not in words, but in that which it is fitted to prevail with God. One prayer is not more strong than another, except in how it is so framed, it hath power with God more or less; as of Jacob it is said, ‘He had power with God,’ Hosea 12. 

Now prayers move God, not as an orator moves his hearers, but as a child moves his father.

Two words of a child humbled, and crying at his father’s feet, will prevail more than penned orations, Rom. 8: it is the meaning of the spirit that God looks unto, more than the expression; for the groans there are said to be unutterable. Hezekiah’s expressions were so rude and broken, that he says, Isa. 38:14, that he did but ‘chatter,’he being then sick, even as a crane;’ yet God heard them.