God spoke the following promise through Isaiah: “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24 ESV). That promised behavior of God contrasts sharply to the prior behavior of the Israelites that a few verses earlier God judged for the following reasons: “because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen” (Isaiah 65:12 ESV).
Like those Israelites, we all are sinful by nature, and we commit countless actual sins, including not listening to God’s Word and not answering His call to repent of our sin and trust Him to forgive our sin. Yet, when we do so repent and believe, then God forgives our sinful nature and all of our sin, for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ, crucified on the cross and resurrected from the grave for all people. Out of God’s great love, mercy, and grace, He gives us what we need through no merit or initial – and to some extent even subsequent – action of our own.
That one person is – or one-hundred or even one-hundred-thousand people are – praying for something does not ultimately cause God to give what is requested. For example, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther teaches in his Small Catechism, even without our prayer the Kingdom of God comes, the good and gracious will of God is done, and God gives daily bread to everyone, even to all evil people. Yet, Luther says that we should be certain that our Lord’s Prayer petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven and are heard by Him, for He has commanded us to pray and has promised to hear us, which hearing includes answering in the way and time that He knows to be best.
As one of my brother pastors recently said well in one of his daily emailed devotions, that another person is praying, much less thinking, about us matters far less than that God, Who can actually do something about us, is thinking about us, not to mention answering before we call and hearing while we are yet speaking.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.
[Editor’s Note: For Galler’s perspective on decriminalizing marijuana possession, look in a future edition of the News Herald.]