@robertkwendt || lead pastor
Over the weekend, while watching my favorite college football team get destroyed, upset, and humiliated, I (along with everyone watching) was introduced to the story of Tyler Trent (@theTylerTrent). Tyler, a 20-year-old student at Purdue, who has been under hospice care, found all the strength he could muster. He wanted to see his Purdue Boilermakers pull off an amazing upset of #2 Ohio State. At the end of the game, not only was he interviewed by ABC, but he was able to go and celebrate in the Purdue locker room. This is a story that can be turned into a movie.
However, it wasn't Saturday night that hit me the most. It was a tweet he made on Sunday afternoon. (See the whole post linked to his tweet here.)
When faced with struggles, 90% of Americans pray.*
We pray big prayers:
"God, help me keep my job." "Save my marriage." "Help heal me from this disease."
We pray small prayers:
"Help me pass this test." "Help me find a parking space." "Help me make it on time."
So what happens when these prayers don't seem to be answered? What happens when things don't work out the way that we had hoped?
Does that mean God is silent? Why would a good God even allow for bad things? Does this mean He doesn't care? Does this mean that if there even is a God then he's a bad one?
While most people turn to prayer in times of hardship, the reality is that I have had numerous conversations with people who don't believe in God because He seemingly didn't answer their prayer requests.
What does that mean for us? How should we approach prayer? Does God hear us?
god isn't silent. chances are we don't like his answer.
Here's the question we have to get real about—is our problem that God doesn't answer our prayers? Or is it that we're disappointed in the outcome?
If we're to be completely honest, when we pray, we go to God with the end result in mind. God wants to know our heart's desire. There are times when he does, in fact, respond how we hoped he would. Times when cancer is healed. Miracles take place. And prayer is not only words expressed with words but experienced in tangible results.
Yet there are often times when it seems like our prayers weren't answered. Times when healing doesn't take place. Miracles don't happen. Things don't go as we had hoped.
Is this because God is silent? That's often the argument that can be made.
However, what if we saw that God's answer was just different than what we had hoped? It can cause us frustration, but it also allows us to gain a heavenly perspective. A perspective like Tyler's.
ultimately, god wants to use your story for his glory.
In writing to the church in Thessalonica, Paul wrote:
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies." (1 Thessalonians 5:18-20)
Here on October 21, 2018, a young man by the name of Tyler Trent is quoting that letter to bring glory to God. Despite cancer. Despite his grim diagnosis. Despite all the pain. He's pointing to and bringing praise to God.
Tyler has used his story—not bring glory to Tyler, but to bring glory to God. Despite probably not getting the answers to prayer that he had hoped for, he is praising God for being good.
prayers are to be about god's kingdom.
Here is how Jesus taught us to pray:
"Pray then like this:
'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.'"
When we pray as Jesus taught us to pray, two things become important.
1) We pray for God's will. We pray for God's Kingdom. This is hard, because it means praying for whatever the ultimate will of God is. Even if it hurts us.
2) We pray in the plural. Did Jesus ever once tell us to pray, "Give me ____." No. He used the plural. "Give us."
There is a big difference between praying for yourself and praying for others. When we pray in the plural, we realize that we are all connected. That God is doing something through our personal story to connect it to another story. When we pray in the plural, we're able to pray with others in mind. In doing so, we are able to handle even the hardest of answers.
If you've been discouraged because God didn't grant your request, if you feel like God has been silent, then let me encourage you to change your perspective. Look for what God is telling you through your circumstance. Because in actuality, we get to watch God do incredible things when we stop focusing on our circumstances and start focusing on what God can do through our circumstance.
Just look at the story of Tyler. Thanks Tyler for being an inspiration! (Even if it meant a loss for Ohio State.)