“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7 NIV)
“And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.” (Galatians 6:9 TLB)
This meditation is Part 6 of a 6-part series on Galatians. Part 1, “No Other Gospel,” is available here. Part 2, “Crucified With Christ,” is here. Part 3, “Law and Promise,” is here. Part 4, “Born of the Free Woman,” is here. Part 5, “Freedom in Christ,” is here.
PICTURE A MAN ON HIS KNEES, HANDS FOLDED, ELBOWS RESTING ON HIS BIBLE.
Picture a woman clutching a photograph or child’s drawing, her hands resting in her lap as she sits in a quiet room, her eyes shut tight, her lips moving slightly as she mouths words of petition.
Both are bringing adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition (ACTS) to the Lord in prayer.
Both are opening their hearts — and their souls — to the Creator of the universe, the One who purposed their lives before the world began, asking, begging, praying that the Great Healer will intervene in the lives of a loved one.
There is nothing more powerful than the prayer of a righteous man or woman (James 5:16) in petitioning the Throne to heal the body or save the soul of another person.
THERE IS NO PRAYER MORE MEANINGFUL than the penitent’s open confession of sin and repentance, mixed with thanksgiving and praise, for the Savior’s sacrifice to reclaim our lives for God’s purpose.
When Jesus prayed to the Father before He was arrested, He prayed for us, for those who
would believe in Him without having seen Him in bodily form.
“I have given these people the glory that you gave me,” Jesus prayed, “so that they [us] can be one, just as you and I are one.” (John 17:22 NCV)
Yet, Paul, in a powerful teaching to close his letter to the Galatians, reminds us not to “become tired” or “lose heart” or “grow weary” or “become discouraged” or “get discouraged” (as translated in the NCV, NASB, ESV, AMP, and TLB versions) in our prayers. That is because we are not promised immediate and full responses to our prayers.
The reason is because the Lord wants to build character and perseverance in our lives. It is through character development that God develops His disciples who will then make disciples who make disciples. (Romans 5:4)
Yes, He has the power to snap His divine fingers and heal everything and everyone, but He will not do that. He could, if He chose, give us the clarity of vision we so desperately desire, yet He prefers to help us build faith in Him and trust in His provision. (Hebrews 11:1)
Man’s sinful behavior ruptured the good universe the Lord created, and what we have now is a mild glimpse of the divine, a distortion of the perfect.
Fortunately for us, God, in His mercy, has given us an escape from the eternal consequences of our sin, through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the Cross.
JESUS, IN HIS EARTHLY MINISTRY, taught us that we may petition the Father in His name, and the Father will hear us. Jesus also taught us that we must be persistent in our prayers.
In Luke 11, the Lord tells of a man who asks a friend to give him some bread to feed a guest who has just arrived from a journey.
“Open the door, friend, and help me,” the first man says. “I have a friend who has journeyed and he just arrived at my house, but I have nothing to offer him.”
“Don’t bother me,” the homeowner responds. “The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.” (Luke 11:7 NIV)
Jesus says that the first man’s persistence eventually pays off, and the homeowner, reluctantly, gets out of his warm bed, finds some bread, opens the door, and gives it to the first man.
THE LESSON THAT JESUS DRAWS is that if sinful man can grumble and still give good gifts to others, then how much more will a loving and gracious Heavenly Father give to those who ask?
In John 16, Jesus tells us that we can ask anything of the Father in His name, and the Father will grant it.
Those prayers that the Father will answer are the ones that meet His plan for our lives. Paul tells us in Philippians 2:13 (ESV) that the Father “is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
The psalmist said nearly the same thing in Psalms 37:4 (ESV)— “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
That is, God builds the desire in your heart to please Him, then when you desire to please the Lord, ask Him, and He will help you do that.
As our imaginary man and woman are giving their hearts to the Lord in prayer, the Father is working in their hearts — hearts that believe in His Son — giving them the desire to obey Him.
Then, as they — and we — pray, the Lord will strengthen us to do those very things.
Since this is a process, designed to prepare our hearts for eternity, the Father has little interest in instantaneously acceding to our requests. God is no Genie-in-a-Bottle. He is not Santa Claus. He is the Great Shaper. He has “begun a good work in [us] until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6 NIV), meaning when Jesus returns.
WHAT AN INTERESTING MESSAGE Jesus was telling us. One one hand, He says we can pray to the Father in His name and be heard, yet we shouldn’t expect a complete answer right away. We need to be brought along, to be trained to obey as He obeyed, to be faithful and trust in the Father.
He wants to teach us the lesson of Hebrews 11:1 (NASB), that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” We should pray with full confidence that we will receive — “you must have faith and not doubt.” (James 1:6 CEV)
There’s a final point to be made.
We need to keep going back to our imaginary man and woman of faith, deep in prayer, bringing their hopes and dreams, sorrows and pains, and faithfulness to Almighty God.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:7 there is an accounting for our lives. Not only should we not give up in “doing good,” he says, but we should also realize that we will “reap” (“harvest”) what we “sow” (“plant”). That is, the rewards that are ours in eternity will bea direct result of how we live our lives now.
Those who are faithful in their pursuit of God’s will should not give up or become discouraged if all of their prayers are not answered immediately, but they should remain faithful in continuing their prayers.
So much of God’s Word, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, shows that God most of all wants us to trust Him, to pursue Him, and to count on Him for our blessings and the wellbeing of ourselves and others.
We cannot fool Him, for He will judge us fairly. That’s in His nature. Paul also tells us in Romans 2:16 (NLT): “And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.”
It’s all in His hands.
PRAYER: O Heavenly and most gracious Father, we ask You to search our hearts and find what angers You and then help us to turn from those sins and be reconciled to You. Please forgive us. Train us to turn to You in all our circumstances, from seeking forgiveness, to asking for help, for giving praise and for giving thanks. Help us to keep being faithful until You return or call us home, not doubting in Your goodness. Reclaim us, O Lord, and makes us Your sons and daughters and heirs. In Christ Jesus we pray. Amen