Month: June 2020

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?

Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?

in Devotionals on June 28, 2020

Why doesn’t God answer my prayers? Is He even real or listening?

Growing up, my parents always taught me the importance of learning what it means to depend on God. It was a struggle for me then and even now to completely understand what “depending on God” would look like. I knew that one of the many facets of “depending on God” was prayer. But why doesn’t God answer my prayers?

As someone who grew up in a Christian household, praying was part of a family tradition, and up till this day, it is something that my family holds onto as an important practice we keep. During a big event that we knew we couldn’t control as individuals (for example, I remember praying for safe travels with my family before every plane ride we took to visit our relatives overseas), that’s when we start to pray or as it is defined “earnestly beg” to God to help us.

While there are many things in life that are within our own control, there are also many things that we cannot control. Prayer is thus something that many people, religious or not, utilize to help reassure themselves that while things aren’t fully within their control, the hope is that some force, or higher being out there would be watching over and guiding us through the invisible forces that shape our path in life.

why doesn't God answer my prayers?

How to Pray Effectively

In the Bible, there are many instances where we see prayers being lifted up to God, no matter whether rich or poor, strong or weak. Even Jesus Christ himself, prayed. He himself knew that by his own strength, he could not achieve much. From the moment his public life of faith started to the cross he had to bear, Jesus drew strength from God through prayer (Heb 5:7).

Not only did he pray for the sake of the work he had to do, but he prayed also for the work that the disciples and the believers that are to come after were to carry out and that they be protected from the evil one (Jn 17:6-26). Surely enough, it resulted as such as we trace the story of the gospels being spread in the rest of the New Testament.

Prayers are lifted up by god.

Prayers in the Bible

Despite the many ‘successful’ requests that we see characters in the Bible have with their prayers, sometimes, the success rates aren’t necessarily equivalent to our experiences today. Due to such, many people come to a conclusion that this higher being that one prays to either don’t exist or don’t care about our livelihoods or requests we have. But to challenge such way of thought, have we ever wondered if the problem is not God himself, but perhaps the person sending the request?

This is something worth thinking about because in the Bible, the problem and the reason for religion’s existence did not stem from the problem being God himself, but it exists due to people and their response to certain situations. While it may be easier to point the finger at others, or in this case, God, have we self-examined ourselves to check where we stand? Have we ever stop to think that maybe perhaps we are the problem and not God? Do we have our own standard of what prayers should look like and accomplish rather than verifying it against God who fulfills those requests?

Religious problem arise from people and their way of response to certain situations.

Fact or Fiction: Ask and it will be Given?

It’s like this — a child asks for a brand new expensive PlayStation 4 from his parents. Would all parents just easily give such an expensive game console to the kid? Not necessarily. Often times, in the world, to gain something, there are often terms and guidelines that one has to keep before something is given or rewarded to the individual. Likewise, have we consider that perhaps the way of thinking applies to our prayers that we life up to God?

While many may claim that one can simply “ask and it will be given”, if one examines scriptures more in depth, the scriptures actually says otherwise. In the Bible, to lift up a prayer in which God can acknowledge would require more than just “asking.” In the case of the example of the child who wants a brand new PlayStation 4 from his parents, under what terms and conditions would a parent probably reward the child by fulfilling his request?

My Parents’ Point of View

From my parents’ point of view it might be some sort of academic achievement, or maybe not. Regardless, what I do know know and understand is that a child’s heart must align with her parents. If it was the parents’ heart, that PlayStation 4 would be within the child’s reach. In the same way, what is essential is having the word of God, having God’s heart within oneself. Then you’ll be able to lift up a prayer that God can acknowledge (Prv 28:9, Jn 15:7, 1 Jn 5:14).

While it may be difficult to grasp that there is a condition attached to praying in a way one can be acknowledged by God, it shouldn’t be too great of a surprise to us. In fact, Jesus, the one whom had his prayers acknowledged by the Father, had the word in him (Jn 17:7-8) and hence, was able to depend on God and receive God’s protection as he requested.

The heart of child must align to that of his/her parents.

Addressing “Why Doesn’t God Answer my Prayers?”

Before I asked “why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” But now, the question we need to ask ourselves should be “do I have the word within me?” The term “having the word in me” probably does not only mean just knowing a verse or two, because if that was the case we would have easily checked it off and our prayers would have been foolproof. Then what does it entail to “have the word within” oneself?

Throughout the Bible, God stresses the value and importance of the word in has for His people. God speaks of the importance of the word being impressed upon the people’s hearts and minds (Deut 6:6-9, Heb 8:10-12). As God’s people today, the believers, are we able to uphold ourselves to that standard placed in God’s word? Uphold ourselves to uplift a prayer that God can actually acknowledge and answer? Or are we expecting things to fulfill according to our own standards? Something to think about. But more importantly, how do I know if the word that is within me is sufficient to uplift a prayer God can acknowledge?

Profile of Abraham, the Father of Faith

Profile of Abraham, the Father of Faith

in Bible Study on June 22, 2020

Abraham: Father of Faith

Christians across the spectrum know Abraham as “the father of faith.” This title is probably familiar to us, as we often hear it in Bible studies, even from youth. We are taught of Abraham’s great faith and righteousness, and to follow his example. However, perhaps not many of us know the reason (or at least the full picture) as to why he received this title. He is the 19th descendant of Adam, and the 10th descendant of Noah, from the line of Shem. In Genesis 12, God commands Abram to leave his father’s household and go to the land of Canaan. Abram did just as God commanded him, and set for Canaan—he was 75 years old at this time.

abraham the father of faith

The Covenant with Abraham

In Genesis 15, Abram (later to be called Abraham) receives a vision from God, where God makes a covenant (promise) with him that he will have descendants so numerous that they cannot be counted (v. 5). And because Abram believed in this promise, he was considered righteous (v. 6). But the covenant does not end here. In verses 13-14, God says, 13 Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own.” Later, God chose Moses to lead the Israelites out. This promise was made before he had his son Isaac.

Abram’s wife Sarai was unable to bear him a child, so he had one through his maidservant Hagar at the age of 86—he named him Ismael. In Genesis 17, God renamed Abram to Abraham (meaning exalted father) because he was to be the father of many nations (v. 5). His wife Sarai was also renamed to Sarah (v. 15). Then God makes a covenant with him that Sarah will bear him a child, to be called Isaac (Gn 18: 17,19-20). At this time, he and Sarah were 100 and 90 years old, respectively. So upon hearing this, he fell facedown in what might potentially be the first biblical instance of “ROFL”.

abraham sacrifices Isaac

Abraham’s Son

Nevertheless, God kept his promise to him, and Sarah bore Isaac (Gn 21:2). From this point on, things get interesting because God tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. The very next morning, Abraham set forth to Moriah with Isaac, where he was to be sacrificed. Now keep in mind that by this point, God had already promised him that he would be the father of many nations (Gn 17:4). But yet he is expected to sacrifice his only son, from whom these “many nations” were to come. Hebrews 11:11-12 and v. 17-19 explain the reason behind his great faith. He reasoned that for God to fulfill the promise He made to him, Isaac had to live. So regardless of whatever happened, one way or the other, Isaac would father many nations. Because of this, Abraham was ready to obey Gods command.

Abraham Believed the Promise

Abraham the father of faith

As he is about to sacrifice Isaac, God commands him to stop, and acknowledges his obedience. Abraham then sees a ram, and offers it as a sacrifice in place of Isaac. What is very important to take from this story is that Abraham’s faith was not without reason. It was not a blind faith, but rather faith based upon understanding. He believed in God’s promise, and because of this, he was able to act accordingly. We must also ask ourselves, is my faith based on understanding of God’s promises? Or other things such as feelings and emotions? I hope that his story can be a great example for all of us to grow in faith.

Question: Should Women Teach in Church?

Question: Should Women Teach in Church?

in Bible Study on June 19, 2020

Should women teach in church? A friend of mine was invited to a church. She loved the teaching, felt like she was growing as a believer and in her relationship with God. She saw that the people there were loving and kind. It was a great community. She shared her joy with a friend who then immediately shut her down and told her she needed to stop going. Her reasoning? The pastor of that church was a woman and, according to my friend’s acquaintance, that was unbiblical and a sin before God. I watched my friend’s joy fade to uncertainty and eventually she just stopped going. Better to be safe than to perhaps participate in unrighteousness right?

If you have been in the church for a while, or if like me you were raised in the faith, then you have probably heard of the controversy surrounding women holding leadership roles over men. Believers are very divided on this issue and the more conservative among us are staunch in the belief that women simply should not teach. I’ve heard all kinds of logic about this.

Growing up I was told that women have to submit to men (especially their husbands) so they can’t go around being in leadership over them. I heard that women are too emotional to be in any position of leadership. They just aren’t cut out to be the cool-headed leaders that men can be. I’ve heard that Apostle Paul said women must not speak in the church. The biological and philosophical arguments behind this I choose not to address. You need to work that out for yourself. But since I am a believer, I am interested in what the Bible has to say about it. Let’s take a look.

Should Women Teach in Church

Biblical restrictions against women speaking in the church

The main passages cited in opposition to women being allowed to teach is in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. What do those verses say?

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (1Timothy 2:11-12)

Alright, two verses in the Bible saying practically the same thing. Case closed. Women should shut their mouths in spiritual matters involving the church as a whole or at least when men are present. “Should women teach in church?” Okay, but then I have a few questions as well.

Bible's verses say women need not enter spiritual matters.

Apostle Paul’s other words regarding women

Apostle Paul told Timothy in the next verse that “women will be saved through childbearing” (1 Tim 2:13). But everybody knows that Apostle Paul was an advocate for singleness (1 Cor 7). Shoot, then women are screwed either way if the men really follow Paul’s words. Thankfully most conservative Christians just ignore this chapter and focus on 1 Cor 14 instead. Saved.

If we are going to follow Paul’s guidance for women in regards to teaching literally and strictly, then women better apply all of his advice. What else does he say? Women should “dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes” (1 Tim 2:9).

Hmm, that’s interesting. What is an “elaborate hairstyle?” According to other translations of the Bible it is specified as “braided hair.” Now that’s odd, because I have gone to a lot of traditional churches that denounce women pastors but whose female congregation wears their long hair in braids. Equally, it is odd because I have seen so many churches have a culture that emphasizes buying fancy (and often expensive) “Sunday dresses,” especially around Easter. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul also tells us that women should cover their heads when they pray or prophesy. I don’t see that being equally applied either.

Braided style of hair is known as elaborate style of hair.

Are there women leaders in the Bible?

Remember that pesky Judge Deborah in the Old Testament? How did she squeeze into that leadership role among the men? Did God make a mistake? If we read the book of Judges we can see that not only did Deborah (who was married) speak on behalf of God, delivering his message and speaking his prophecies for the future, but she also judged over all Israel (Jgs 4:4-5). Gasp! You mean men too? Yes. Oddly enough, Barak, the male leader she gave God’s direction to, didn’t seem to doubt her words because of her gender. This should be quite interesting to those asking “should women teach in church.”

Then Deborah said to Barak, “Go! This is the day the Lord has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the Lord gone ahead of you?” So Barak went down Mount Tabor, with ten thousand men following him. (Judges 4:14)

Now that’s odd. So God was okay with having a woman deliver his message in the Old Testament but not in the New Testament?

What is the context of Apostle Paul’s letters?

Apostle Paul words are: Women go from house to house and become idlers.

Before you assume that I am advocating that we just throw away the words of Apostle Paul, let’s take a look at the situation of the church he was writing to. Let’s see what some of the women of the church were doing in 1 Timothy 5:13-15:

Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

Furthermore, within this church there are false doctrines that are being taught by people who are desiring to be teachers but who don’t know what they are talking about (1 Tim 1:3-7). Paul goes on to specifically point out that Eve was the one who was deceived first in the face of lies (1 Tim 2:13-14). Similarly in 1 Corinthians 1, there are divisions going on in the church. It does not specify if these divisions and false teachings were caused by women or men. They could be from either or both, but it’s important to consider in light of his strictures against women speaking in the church.

So, what should we do? Ignore Apostle Paul’s words in support of feminism? Become fundamentalist Christians whose women wear only hand-sewn garments and silently go about in head coverings? Or judge whether or not I should accept the message spoken by a woman the same way I should judge the message spoken by a man? With the Bible and truth as the standard?

In Bible, women are referred in many places as prophetesses.

So, Should Women Teach in Church?

Women are mentioned in several places in the Bible in the role of prophetesses. How do we judge if a prophet’s words are true or not? In Deuteronomy 18:22, we are told to test if that prophet’s words come true. Is what they are saying aligned with truth and reality? Truth according to the Bible is the Word of God (John 17:17). If someone, anyone, whether they be man, woman, or animal, is sent by God to speak his Word of truth, then a believer better stand up and listen. In Numbers 22 whose mouth does God open to speak? A donkey’s. What was that donkey doing? Saving his rider from certain death at the hand of God’s angel!

When I asked my friend if she had found anything to be unbiblical or false within the teaching of that female pastor, she said she hadn’t. In fact, she felt like she was finally coming to know God’s will for her within the Bible and was understanding the deeper contents and messages that had always been a mystery to her. Correct understanding is something that can only happen if the spirit of God is present and working through that speaker (1 Cor 2:11-13). John tells us to test the spirits working within our teachers, not by their gender but by their words (1 John 4:1-6). Man looks at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart.

You may choose to reject the message of God if you want to because you don’t like the one speaking it. People rejected the prophets and Jesus too for the same reason. For myself, I will test the words that are spoken. If it is the truth coming from the Holy Spirit, I will listen no matter who is speaking, even if it is a donkey, or worse, a woman. So, should women teach in church? I hope this has been a meaningful article exploring the question and that through it we can all grow in faith.