By Pastor Allen Beardmore
There is a lot of talk these days about “answers to prayer”. Do you know anything about having your prayers answered? What does that even mean? If you’re stuck in traffic and you ask God to get you to work on time and suddenly your car is waved through the construction zone does that mean God answered your prayer? Or if someone you love gets sick and you pray for healing but instead they die does that mean God didn’t answer your prayer? One way to answer this question is to study how Jesus answered “prayers” that people made to him.
In the gospel of Luke, we are told that when Jesus was crucified one of the criminals hanging beside him prayed to him. He prayed, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). So, did Jesus answer his prayer or not? Well, what was the man really saying? What was his real request? The criminal had just admitted to Jesus that he was a law breaker. The criminal admitted that he deserved to die for the sins he had committed. He had also confessed that Jesus was perfect and did not deserve to die. He also knew that Jesus was a king that would certainly rule a great kingdom. Having understood all of this, he did not demand but humbly asked that Jesus would simply think about him. Not much of a prayer! He didn’t ask Jesus to do anything for him. He didn’t ask Jesus to give him anything. He just wanted Jesus to think about him.
But Jesus gave the criminal far, far more than he had ever expected. Jesus gave him his own personal presence. “You will be with me”. Jesus was willing to do much more than think about the criminal, he wanted to be with him. Next, he promised the man a place in heaven. Heaven is the place of perfect glory where God himself can be enjoyed. It’s a place where only righteous law keepers can live. However, the criminal could go there. And all of this would be “today” not in the distant future. This is an amazing answer to a weak prayer!
What prayers do you offer to God? Are they filled with demands and carefully crafted requests? Do you ever wonder what God wants from you? He wants you to see that you are a criminal that has broken his holy law. He wants you to admit your guilt and confess that you deserve to die for your sins. He wants you to recognise that Jesus is a great king. And he wants you to ask him for the greatest gift he could possibly give you…his perfect Son dying on a cross for sinners. That prayer, offered in faith, will be given a wonderful answer. Right now, today, you will receive Christ himself for all of eternity. Is that how you pray?