The Way to a Thankful Heart
Author: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
In the Bible, prayer is worship to God which includes all the attitudes of the human spirit in its approach to God. ¹
I don’t know about you, but I see no shortage of social media messages which bombard us daily on how to get answers to our prayers. If we didn’t know any better we might think God is self-centered and self-serving as we are. We might think God cares nothing about our true worship to Him, and only cares about our personal inward dreams and desires. If we are Christians, who study the Bible, we know very well God cares about every aspect of the world He created. When reading through the Bible, we read about patriarchs who plead with God on behalf of others.
It does not mean God doesn’t care about us on a personal level, but as long as we view prayer simply as the means of maintaining our Christian lives, we will not fully understand what it’s really supposed to be.² There is a greater mystery – a deeper understanding as to why God answers some prayers and prolong His answers at other times.
1 John 5:14 “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us.”
Praying His Will
In the book of Acts 16:6, Paul was preaching the Gospel through Phrygia and Galatia, however the Holy Spirit stopped him from preaching the Gospel in Asia. He tried to go through Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit did not permit him.
He was preaching the Gospel. Why would the Holy Spirit stop him?
Several years ago while living in California, I applied for a job to work as a mentor to young girls at a local church. They called to set up an interview with me. The morning of the interview I felt compelled to pray to God about that interview. The interview was at 12:00p.m. I prayed to God and said; “Lord, I desire to do your will. I don’t want to do anything outside of your will for me. Please Lord, if this job is not in your will for me, please have this church call me today to cancel the interview.”
I went about my day.
At 10:30a.m. the phone rang. I could see it was church calling.
I hesitantly answered.
The person who had set up the interview was on the other end, she said; “Hi Mrs. Ruvalcaba, we have decided to cancel the interview for today. We will let you know if we decide to reschedule.”
I could not believe my ears.
I was mad!
I was so mad!
I went into my closet and screamed!
I spent the entire day mad. When Omar arrived home later that day I could not stop ranting about how angry I was.
Then finally, Omar said something so profound.
“But Saleama, you humbly prayed to God letting Him know you want to be in His will. You asked Him to cancel the interview if this wasn’t His will for your life – and he answered your prayer.”
How could I respond to that?
To be honest, we needed extra income at that time. It was a job at a church mentoring young women for the Gospel. What’s wrong with that?
Nothing – but Omar was right.
I have no idea why the Holy Spirit stopped Paul from preaching in Asia and Bithynia. I have no idea why God stopped me from working at that church other than I prayed for His will to be done in my life – and He answered.
Psalm 57:2 “I cry out to God Most High, who will fulfill his purpose for me.”
Praying for His Purpose
In Judges 6:11 Gideon is having a conversation, a prayer if you will, with God about God’s will for his life. Through God, Gideon was going to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. However, Gideon was not convinced God had chosen him. In some respects this passage is used to illustrate the careful attention we must take to ensure we are doing God’s will. However, at the same time, this passage illustrates Gideon’s extreme hesitation, doubt, and fear.
In December 2009, while living in California, I was asked to serve in a prayer booth at our church dinner for women’s ministry. This was a community event with a large boutique set up inside the gymnasium. A woman, her name was Linda, walked into the prayer booth requesting prayer. She was on the verge of becoming homeless and needed rent for her apartment. I began to pray with her. I began to recite Bible passages with her. In my optimistic innocence as a two-year Christian, I told Linda that God owned her apartment building, not her landlord, and God would provide for her.
Linda burst out laughing at me!
She said; “Kid, do you really believe God is here for everyone?”
Without hesitation, I replied; “Yes.”
Despite Linda laughing at me I told her I would continue to pray for her. We exchanged information.
That evening, I posted on my Facebook page that I had met a woman in need of prayer. People commented that they were praying.
The next evening we were at our Sunday school Christmas party. I began to share Linda’s prayer request with some of the people I was sitting next to. I explained how Linda needed money and was about to lose her apartment because she could not pay her rent. One of the ladies I was talking with owned a business in the area and was in need of several people to hire. She asked if I could give Linda her number.
I was overjoyed for Linda!
I knew it!
For a split second, the night before, Linda made me feel silly – but I knew better! God is here for everyone!
I emailed Linda that evening with excitement to give her the great news!
However – Linda replied with one excuse after the other.
Ah – Okay. My eyes has been open to the truth. You see it’s not God – it’s us.
Linda was looking for a quick solution. She was likely looking for someone to simply hand her money to resolve the problem right away but God answered by offering her a potential job. Like I said to Linda, God owned her apartment building. He governs all. Maybe God was going to soften the heart of her landlord and give her time to work to earn the money for her rent. God was likely working in the heart of Linda to trust Him. If someone had simply given her the money for her rent, she would need money the following month and the following month. God answered by giving her a long-term solution – to which she ignored!
Linda doubted God. Like Gideon, maybe Linda had some fears. But like Gideon, God had a bigger purpose for Linda and He had a purpose for answering her in manner in which He did.
How many times have you prayed to God about something, yet waited for Him to answer under your terms? Then grumbled and complained to Him for not answering when He probably did answer under HIS terms!
There is a deeper meaning – a deeper understanding as to why God answers our prayers. He doesn’t answer our prayers simply for the sake of answering our prayers. He doesn’t give us the desires of our heart simply because we’re so special and have favor in His eyes. There is a bigger picture we often miss.
Answers to prayer is not about;
“Your breakthrough is coming!”
“It’s almost your time!”
“If you just keep holding on…”
Believe it or not – it’s not about you!
Prayer is a powerful activity of faith. It is an intimacy with God. He reveals Himself. A prayer of thanksgiving worships God for His mercy. His goodness. His faithfulness. His love. His tenderness for humanity.
Prayer is about God!
After church service one afternoon, Omar had to visit one of his contract buildings. The sermon that morning was about leading people to Christ. On his way to the building he prayed and asked God to give him more opportunities to lead people to Christ. When he arrived at the building there was a man, he did not recognize, standing out front. To Omar, the man looked a little suspicious.
To Be Continued…
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
¹ New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition
² Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer