Prayers God Always Answers

You know the time you asked for answered prayer that fire would come down from heaven and consume everything… and then all the things were consumed?

Yeah me either… but Elijah did. Elijah understood answered prayer. In the book of 1 Kings there had been a drought, a severe drought (1 Kings 18:2) and Elijah is torn between a hard hearted people and a faith in a God of endless miracles.

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

1 Kings 18:21

Picture this: 

Elijah, God’s man, has the prophets of another foreign god, Baal, set up an altar with an ox. Elijah sets up altar number 2 with an ox as well.

Here in this biblical showdown we watch the stage being set and see our God come through with the fire.

The longer that I follow the Lord, the quieter I learn to become and the more I am convinced that He, the Creator,  has a flair for the dramatic.

All these stories of old:

 …the water parting wide open…

…fire falling from heaven…

…a man swallowed by a fish so he would repent and be obedient to what God asked Him to do in the first place…

…feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and having leftovers…

…walking out to meet his friends ON THE WATER… not wading in the water but ON TOP of the water… to simply say “Take courage; it is I… do not be afraid…”

…a King of glory leaving a throne in a perfect paradise to come down into a feeding trough for animals to live among prostitutes, liars, cheaters and the self-righteous…

Why the drama?

I truly believe God loves answered prayer in unexpected ways at unexpected times. 

I’ve found in searching for our answers that you can see the dramatic side to our God while prayer sets the stage.

Scripture, watching this drama happen in other people’s lives and then in my own life have brought me to this conclusion. This story today is one where prayer sets the stage and God shows off.

One afternoon we were going to have our neighbors over for dinner. My husband was out grabbing pizza… because that’s how we really went all out for these neighbors! (See my post on how hospitality doesn’t have to be fancy.) I was in the house… it was quiet! Yes… quiet …!! The kids were outside running around and I was praying

My husband and I had a burden for our neighborhood, but it’s hard to reach neighbors who keep to themselves and who avoid eye contact AT ALL COST. God first sets the stage in what to us begins to feel like a burden for people he loves. God is setting the stage…

In my prayer I am asking if God would just give me an opportunity to offer real help to someone who lived in our neighborhood. I didn’t need a huge group, but just one to invite into our home, share the love of Jesus with…

I believe you’re given a burden for those around you so that you respond with a “no strings attached” kind of posture in prayer.

answered prayer

The doorbell rings… Yep… it rings. I mean I hadn’t even finished saying “amen” yet. God was ready… as he ALWAYS is. It gives new meaning to “whatever you ask in prayer you will receive.”

I opened the door.

Guess who it was…

It was my neighbor. A lady who lived right beside me. I had met her once before and we did that awkward wave while passing on the sidewalk. But beyond that, no contact. God was setting his stage.

We lock eyes… I know I’m staring at an answer to prayer but I was uncertain if I should hug her or burst into tears. I had no idea what to say. God knew.

I asked how she was because she hadn’t spoken yet. But after what felt like an eternity she spoke up and said “I don’t know why I needed to tell you, but I came over to let you know my husband died today.”

Answered prayer.

I wonder if this is what Elijah felt when the fire came down from heaven… I know he was expecting it, but there had to be a measure of shock involved. Did he feel an excitement knowing that this is the God he served? On the flip-side, did he feel what I felt, the intensity to not screw this up?

What kind of answered prayers can we count on? We see many in scripture. I’ve also seen many in my own life. And I do know God answers the prayers of a burdened heart. 

I’m not here to say God won’t answer our prayers for a new car, a new house or a new job. He absolutely shows up in those situations. But for the sake of this story, I want to go deeper. This prayer. Elijah’s prayer. They began with a heart deeply burdened for the people around us to see God’s character. 

How long will we waver between two opinions? Our own opinion of not having enough time for the lonely and hurting? Our own opinion of not having enough talent or gifting to reach out to the lost or tired or hungry?

God’s plan for us is to know him and to make him known. We make him known best to those whom God has given us a burden to help.

God taught me so much through that elderly lady who came through our doors that day. But one thing he definitely taught me was that he loves those neighbors more than I do. And he is willing to show his flair for the dramatic to draw myself and them closer to his side..

Prayer God Answers

God loves her. God answered prayers. And God is still in the drama business. 

Who has God burdened your heart with? Is there a specific neighbor? A coworker? A child? A people group? A mission organization? What kind of answered prayers are you seeking?

Come on over to Instagram and tag me with #lovethestranger and tell me your stories. Or find me at @beautifullydwelling