Introduction: A story about a misplaced bag
I recently had the experience of having my luggage being forgotten by the airliner at a certain stopover while on my way to a certain state. Whenever you travel a long way from home, you never realize how important the basics of life really are until you are without them. The bag that had been left at the certain airport contained clothes and personal effects. When I had gotten off of the final flight and waited at the baggage claim, I soon realized that the bag had been left at the previous airport. So, I went to the baggage claim counter and put in a request, with the clerk giving me a claim number. The only thing they could do was ensure me that the bag would be delivered by hand in the next day or so.
I held tightly onto that claim ticket and went onto the website where I could type in further information and hopefully track the bag. The place where I was staying was located in an area with poor phone reception. The computer website told me the bag would be delivered by 3:30 p.m the next day. As the next afternoon rolled around, it was going on 3:00 p.m and I was beginning to wonder if the airport, the baggage claim service and all the people it took to make the delivery possible would come through on their promise.
Soon I got a phone call - but then the call dropped. After about four or five missed calls, I was able to text the driver the address where I was staying. When the knock came on the door, I was excited. There was my bag! I knew by looking at it and the driver that my request had been fulfilled. When the driver saw me, I offered my claim ticket and he said it was unnecessary, since through our repeated efforts to communicate he had deduced that I was his intended recipient.
How you can tell when God is working in your prayer-life
Now for the point of the story: you and I dear Christian can be certain of God's working in our lives and can know for sure when He has answered our requests. The passage above begins with the truth: "And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask...". That conditional "if" is based upon the fact relayed in the previous verse of the confidence we have to come to God in prayer. Do we trust God? When we pray to Him, are we confident that He will come thought for us?
I'll admit, I was nervous about the airline's abilities and at one point was unsure whether I would use them again. But as soon as that bag arrived, all of that was erased. I wonder if that is how we often treat God in prayer? We chew our spiritual fingernails and really wonder if He is trustworthy. When we see answered prayer, we will of course praise the Lord after the fact. But what about before? Moreover, I wonder how often we have experienced answered prayer without even knowing it?
To the degree with have confidence in God's character will determine how well we can identified answered prayer. Notice what the Apostle John writes in the second half of 1 John 5:14 "....we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." The Greek word translated "we know" speaks of "understanding". Henceforth the ability to understand where God is working in relationship to our prayers increases as we "understand" or "know" that He is trustworthy.
If you and I dear Christian could just see how often God is at work in our lives and works in response to prayers that perhaps we had forgotten about, we would perhaps be not so quick to doubt God the next time we pray. When the answer comes, will you and I recognize it? I hope we will. Unlike the occasional foibles of air travel, God will never leave one detail of our lives unchecked. We can be sure that His will and purposes will be achieved on His time. We just need to trust Him, so that we can recognize His work in the present and future times to come.
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