You May Be The Answer To Your Own Prayers!
Prayer. One of the grand mysteries of life. If you have ever prayed to God and seen him answer a prayer you know what I am talking about. Just stop and think about that. We, who are teeny tiny created specks in an unfathomably huge and expanding universe, are able to communicate with and relate to the King of that Universe! Ridiculous! And yet that is truth.
On Sunday mornings in July we are working our way through the book of Ruth. At present we are 3/4 of the way through. We are at the point where we can look back and see how things have developed and how plot lines relate to each other in bringing resolution to the grand conflict of the story.
One grand theme is Naomi’s emptiness and how God is going to fill her up (Ruth 1:21- “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty”). Naomi tries to convince her daughters-in-law to return home and start over with new husbands so that they don’t experience the same emptiness of life that she is being beaten with. She expresses that remarrying is the best route forward and that God will do this for them (Ruth 1:9-“May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.”).
Ruth was the only daughter-in-law who clung (1:14) to Naomi and accompanied her home to Bethlehem. In chapter 2 God provided for the women by leading Ruth to the glean in the fields of a relative of Naomi’s, Boaz. Boaz was generous in taking extra measures to provide abundantly for the women. Fast forward to chapter 3. Here we see that Naomi seizes upon a providentially given opportunity. Naomi recognizes that the harvest is ending and the possibility of capitalizing on Boaz’s favour is fast disappearing. Her prayer in chapter 1 was that God would bless Ruth with the security of another marriage. At that point her perspective was that God would accomplish this. Now she sees that Boaz seems to be a good candidate. And tonight he’ll be winnowing barley on the threshing floor, and sleeping out there alone. In this scenario, God has provided the possibility for Naomi’s prayer to be answered; a marriage proposal can be made. But stop and think about these circumstances. Naomi wasn’t waiting for a mate to find Ruth; She took the initiative.
Does this have any spiritual application for our lives? I think it does. Naomi “models one way in which divine and human actions work together: believers are not to wait passively for events to happen; rather, they must seize the initiative when an opportunity presents itself”. This is the tension of the life of faith. We are instructed to wait upon the Lord. But I don’t think that means waiting idly by for something to happen. Waiting upon the Lord means having an internal posture of faith and trusting God and trying to listen and discern where he might be at work. This means that we understand that sometimes God presents the opportunity but we must step out in obedience or faith to partner with him in being the answer to our own prayers. In the book of Ruth we see that God acts IN Naomi’s actions.
Prayer is a mystery. There is no formula for us to manipulate. Sometimes prayer moves God. Often it changes our hearts and minds without any change to the outward circumstance, but that makes all the difference. Always prayer attunes our hearts and minds to God’s. And this means that sometimes we will be able to see where God is moving and working and calling us to join him to be the answer to our own prayers.