"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the Name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21 NIV
When we pray for our needs or those of our family and friends, we normally tend to pray the obvious. Someone is sick, we pray for healing. We have a financial need and we pray the need will be met. This is all good. But sometimes there is more to a situation than meets the eye. Take Job for example.
The book of Job reveals that our lives are being played out on two stages-the earthly stage and the heavenly stage. Job had no idea that his sufferings on earth were a direct result of a confrontation in heaven between God and the devil. At stake: would Job, with all his troubles, speak well of God or curse Him?
If we had been alive in Job's day we probably would have asked God to heal him of his sores and blisters. In light of the conflict in heaven, the real prayer should be that Job remain faithful and not curse God and die.
This conflict between God and the devil continues to this day. Satan is before God day and night accusing the believers while our Advocate, the Lord Jesus intercedes for us before the Father. And as the Holy Spirit directs the global missionary enterprise, the powers of darkness wage war against the saints. As always the battle is over the souls of men and women. Amazingly, we are the prize!
Since events in heaven impact our lives on earth, we need discernment when we pray. My wife and I, in our early days as GRN missionaries, went through several financial trials. The obvious prayer was to ask God for more support. Our prayer should have been that we learn to praise and trust Him whether we had a little or a lot.
So when we pray, we should ask God to show us what to pray. Healing a sickness will bring Him glory. But it may bring Him greater glory if He does a deeper work of grace in the person by letting their sickness remain. He may also allow the enemy to buffet us without immediate deliverance. How else can we learn to be overcomers unless we have something to overcome? How can we learn patient endurance without setbacks and delays?
As with Job, the question is whether we will speak well of God and not turn away if He allows us to suffer or undergo persistent trials. Whether He gives or takes away, will we still praise Him? How can we not?
Global Prayer Coordinator