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Answered Prayer and Psalm 99

Submitted May 18, 2010 | by Joseph Jagde

Psalm 99 reads as follows from the NIV version of the Bible:

1 The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.

2 Great is the LORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.

3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.

4 The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.

5 Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the LORD
and he answered them.

7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

8 O LORD our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.

9 Exalt the LORD our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the LORD our God is holy.

This psalm gives the model of active prayer and answers to prayer.

Such luminaries as Moses, Aaron and Samuel were among those who prayed to the Lord and got answers.

There is the aspect in this psalm of keeping the statutes of the Lord in the context of the prayer relationship and wanting answers to prayers.

Violating the precepts of the Lord can hinder or outright block answered prayer and this can be understood, in that if you want certain answers from the Lord, you might not want to be for example stealing everybody blind.

That would possibly be the greater meaning presented here but there is also another meaning that might also be important but overlooked in interrelating this psalm.

The decrees of the Lord in the context of prayer can also be understood as specific instructions that go with a given answer.

For example, I might be praying for the best possible surfing conditions this weekend because I really want a great surfing day.

The answer may in fact be provided, but I end up going to the movies.

So I went into the realm of the answered prayer but I didn't also pay attention to decrees or instructions involved with the answer.

The Lord may be providing graces and answers, but there are some instructions that go along with the provisions of the answers that need to be heeded.

In this case, it would not be a matter really of outright sinning; it is much more so just not paying intention to instructions.

While the loss or detriment is there, it is really your own loss. For example, when the commander sought healing for leprosy from Elisha, he was told to dip in specific waters for 7 times and he almost did not do that and if he hadn't he would have lost the answer. There were instructions and directives provided within his answer that he needed to follow.

The instructions might not match the circumstances and may be quite easy where the expectation might have been the instructions would be hard.

From 2 Kings Chapter 5 verses 8 through 13:

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel." 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Another example along these lines is from the gospel of John where Jesus has a subsequent meeting with Peter.

John Chapter 21 verses 1 through 6 read as follows:

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way:2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.

6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Peter and the rest spent all night fishing and caught nothing. Instructions were given but did not correlate with the situation at hand. Likely, the instructions would have been, go a half mile down shore to a better fishing spot. The very easy instructions of putting the fishing lines to the right side of the boat rather than the left would not have matched the circumstances of not having caught one fish in the area for a full night of fishing.

The moral of the story is there will be instructions, but they might not match up well with what are the perceived circumstances and in these two key cases the instructions were much easier than might have been expected but also much different than what might have been expected given the presiding circumstances at hand.

When Mary asked that wine be provided at the wedding, Jesus gave specific instructions to follow as part of the answer.

This aspect of prayer might be overlooked and the oversee I have is more towards, I am in good standing and good behavior to where I can get answers.

But even if this is the case, there is still coursework involved that you need pay attention to any possible decrees that are along the lines of specific instructions with regards to specific answers to prayers.

You might get a letter in the mail with your answer, but you need to open the letter. You might be the charitable person on the planet, but that doesn't relieve you of needing to follow some instructions for some given answer in prayer.

It might be that someone feels that are in good stead with the Lord and how been diligently working for the Lord and might feel that this covers all bases including answers for prayer.

But even for this nice position their still needs to be a diligent paying attention to instructions with regards to certain answers in prayer, particularly personal prayer.

With regards to intercessory prayer, you might get off easier as far as the need to pay attention to instructions.

There aren't going to be instruction in the bible as far as following the right road in driving a car, or airplane as those means and devices were not there then, this is why prayer goes to specific instructions in the here and now that are not from the general commandments but very specific to time, place and circumstance.

The duty and diligence is more towards the prayer and the intercession itself rather than following decrees for the answer in many if not most cases.

If you are praying for a faraway country, the people in it, or even future generations, your part in delivering the answer is just about nil, in that you may never get to this country in person. So the crux of the matter is more towards following instructions around the prayer itself and how to formulate the prayer.

The power of the prayer is not limited by your lack of a personal presence to a possible answer say abroad or in some faraway future time.

Decrees or instructions might more so relate to personal wants and instructions around them.

There might still be decrees for intercessions, but it is more so how to pray, how long to pray, where to pray and who maybe to pray for.

There might be research involved in that as well such as reading and other forms of investigation as you craft intercessions.

While the effects of the prayers may never come to you personally, it is important in the work of the Kingdom and in heeding the call to pray not only for yourself but for others.

Verse 8 of this psalm says,

8 O LORD our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.

There would be questions around this verse.

They were answered, but at the same time punished for some misdeeds.

It would seem that this punishment did not include disabling the prayer relationship and they could still have asked for answers and received the answers.

The forgiveness of the Lord kept the prayer relationship open for another day and for more.

The question is when does sin compromise away the prayer relationship to where the Lord will not listen and answer?

If there are misdeeds forgiveness is needed for sure.

But then a person might feel because of the sin or prior sins, they might as well forget about praying and this might be also a wrong approach in that the forgiveness includes the continued openness of the ability to call upon the Lord and get answers.

Then how about just not following instructions and missing out on answers that way?

It would probably be that you can still get answers to your prayer, but be more careful in the future to follow instructions that are contained within the answer, so you can still loop back to the prayer relationship even while messing up and not following instructions previously.

To more so guard against similar errors in the future, as the Lord to make clear all instructions, don't just ask for clear answers but also ask for clear instructions.

Ask for help not only seeing the answers of the day, but also the instructions for the day, which also correlate with answers.

Maybe someone gives you a book with a keen insight, but instructions to get the keen insights would be to actually read the book.

There are countless examples along these lines.

In summary there are two areas to look at, actual misdeeds or sins and errors along the lines of following instructions and you can ask for enlightenment in both areas as you proceed in prayer.

Mistakes and problems in either area should not mean that you stop praying, because you not only need the prayer relationship, you need the provisions of the answers going forward and you need to press on even with weaknesses that may or may not involve sin and also clear the view to follow instructions and decrees along those lines.


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