There are 8 elements common to answered prayers that we do not see in the Greek mythos.
Eos fell in love with the mortal man, Tithonus, and asked Zeus to make him immortal. Zeus granted the request—with a catch. Eos forgot to specify her request as wanting eternal youth for her beau. So Tithonus did live forever but kept aging until he was so old that he couldn’t move or think and just lay still, babbling in dementia forever.
Another character, Chiron, learned from Eos’s mistake and asked for eternal youth and immortality, but forgot to include in his request immunity from pain. He was shot with a poisoned arrow that couldn’t kill him, so he endured the perpetual agony of dying without escape in death.
On another occasion, Midas was granted his wish to be able to turn whatever he touched into pure gold, and Midas immediately went to work creating a vast treasure of golden objects. But then he became hungry and sat down to eat. His food grew rigid and his drink hardened into golden ice. Midas realized he was starving to death and also that he would never embrace his wife or daughter again.
The fictitious gods of the Greek pantheon were unbelievably capricious and vindictive. The true and living God of the Bible is the exact opposite.
Our God tells us what to ask for, and even when we ask amiss, he grants us only that which is good for us and for his glory. And that is why the longest and most comprehensive Psalm in the Bible is all about how we can love God’s law. Today we examine another stanza from Psalm 119 that tells us how to know what requests to make of God for answered prayers.
8 elements common to answered prayers
1. ANSWERED PRAYERS LEAD TO EDUCATION
Psalm 119:33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
If you ask God to make you godly, to teach you truth, and to grant you knowledge about him and his will and his ways…do you think he will answer that prayer? Of course he will. So pray, and then pursue that knowledge.
But notice the point of knowledge—obedience. If you don’t apply what you are learning you are missing the point of reading your Bible.
James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
So, get a Bible reading plan, read your Bible, every day, and learn what God has to say.
2. ANSWERED PRAYERS LEAD TO ILLUMINATION
Psalm 119:34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
You can’t just read the Bible and hope to understand it, believe it, and apply it on your own. You need the help of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, …
I used to read the New Testament and scratch my head. I would read and have no idea what it meant. I fumbled clumsily from verse to verse, stubbing my toe on hidden gems, and bumping my head on obscured theological concepts. But when I got saved I perceived the meaning of Scripture like it was on display in a well-lit room. I started to understand it, find it precious, find it challenging, and find it enjoyable. The Holy Spirit had turned on the light.
Post tenebras lux, as the Reformers would say.
When you read your Bible, start by asking the Spirit to illuminate your mind.
3. ANSWERED PRAYERS LEAD TO NAVIGATION
Psalm 119:35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
The Bible is a map and compass for navigating this life. It is like having a GPS navigation system as opposed to following your nose. Asking for wisdom is a request God always answers.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
So ask God for wisdom, read your Bible, get counsel from godly leaders and friends, and know that this is how God wants to guide you.
4. ANSWERED PRAYERS TAKE DETERMINATION
Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Here the psalmist is praying that God will help him love God over his selfish desire for increasing his net worth. This is a great prayer. There is nothing wrong with riches per se, but to be selfish with your riches is a sin.
So, you can give all your money away, or you can ask God to change your heart so that you are not selfish.
A generous rich person is a great blessing in a church, to his/her friends and family, in the community, and in the kingdom. If you give it all away, you are just one more poor person we need to look after.
But it doesn’t help to try keeping the commandments of God if your heart isn’t in it. You need to be sincere. You need to mean it.
5. ANSWERED PRAYERS REQUIRE DISAPPROBATION
Psalm 119:37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
Disapprobation means disapproval of bad morals. The point is that it doesn’t help to know what God wants, and even to want what God wants, but then to immerse yourself in what God hates.
You might say, “I know lust is wrong, I truly want to be pure in my thought life,” but then you watch movies with graphic scenes, you imbibe hours of lewd humor on sitcoms, and you marinate your mind in magazines that are plastered with air-brushed, scantily-clad women.
You can’t pursue God’s will without a commitment to avoid temptation.
If you want to become godly, ask God for what he wants to grant, that he helps you to turn your eyes away from worthless frivolity.
6. ANSWERED PRAYERS PROVIDE VALIDATION
Psalm 119:38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared.
One of the prayers God loves to answer is when you ask him simply to be true to his promises. We see Moses frequently praying to God simply that he keeps his covenant with Israel. Joshua based his confidence in the conquest of Canaan on the promises of God to grant victory. That’s why he marched around Jericho instead of attacking the walls.
When God keeps a promise it provides validation for your faith. God loves to validate your faith in him. So pray for God to keep his promises.
7. ANSWERED PRAYERS MAY INVOLVE VINDICATION
Psalm 119:39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
We all dread receiving reproach. We fear an accusation that might ruin our reputation. But here the psalmist prays that God would turn the reproach away through his rules.
An example of this is seen in the qualifications of an elder…
Titus 1:6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers [faithful] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination.
To be above reproach doesn’t mean that no accusations of wrongdoing will ever come your way. It just means that the accusations don’t stick. The reproach may come, but it is deflected by a good reputation and actions and character.
Pray that God uses his rules to keep you above reproach.
8. ANSWERED PRAYERS REQUIRE SALVATION
Psalm 119:40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!
The ultimate request is for life. This is referring to life in abundance, including length of days on earth and eternal life in heaven.
It doesn’t help to know, understand and want God’s ways. It doesn’t help to have proof of God’s promises, and to enjoy the vindication of your reputation, but still not have real life.
You must be saved. And this is a request God loves to grant.
Rom 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Asking God for these requests he promises to answer is a way of honoring him. He loves to answer them. So fill your prayers with requests God loves to answer, and you will know his blessing.
This article about answered prayers originally appeared here.