I have a question for you: I was reading an article regarding prayer and it stated how we should look for our answers to our prayers. What I don't get or understand is how do we know when it has been answered? Of course, if it's in the affirmative, we assume it was God. If the answer is no or not now, how do we know this? Of course, we don't look for "signs" do we? Because God doesn't deal with us like that anymore. Also, how do we deal with those who are not Christians (part of the body) who know for sure that it was God that helped give them a job, or help through a situation? Are there general blessings that God gives mankind? I'm kind of confused. It's not that I don't think God answers, I just don't know when. I don't want to sound like every little thing that goes right in my life is God or is it? People, just in my general conversations, always say stuff like: "it was because of God that I got to work on time," or "it was God who got me through that car accident", etc.. And they may not even be Christians. Can you assist me in my understanding?
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
I prayed for a job and I was hired. Was it me or was it God? Let's assume that God in that particular case didn't directly intervene. There is still the fact that it is because of God's teaching that I have the work ethics that I portray. It is because of God that I know how to be a moral person. It is by God's grace that I have the talents and abilities to take on this job. Even if God didn't directly intervene, I can't ever honestly claim that I got that job solely on my own.
Does God give blessings to the wicked? Actually, the Bible teaches that He does. "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45-46). So can we say that the reason your non-Christian friend survived an auto accident was because of God? Can we truly say it wasn't because of God? Perhaps the best answer is to say "Thank God for His kindness and use the time you have to be more pleasing in God's eyes." In other words, turn those moments into opportunities to encourage people to become Christians.
At times I'll have someone tell me "Thank God my boyfriend didn't move out!" I'll often ask why they think God would help them continue to commit fornication (I am a blunt sort of person). Even though I know that God doesn't aid sinners in their sins, still here is an opportunity to think about the morality of a situation.
Usually, it is with hindsight that I realize that God's been pulling strings in my favor. I look at events and realize there were way too many coincidences to get from where I was to where I am. Too many times I've seen someone put God first in their life and things just happen to come together; and I've seen people who abandon God and their life falls apart. Without God's guidance, my life would not be as it is, so I still can be thankful, even for the small blessings. So whether God intervened directly or merely taught me how to live, does it matter I know how He answered my prayers?
Thank you for your reply. I know that God works. I guess I'm trying to figure out "how and why" but the Scripture in the Old Testament comes to mind about His thoughts aren't our thoughts.
So are you saying it's fine for people to thank God regardless of who they are? I agree with this like when people get awards they thank God for their talents, but I guess it's in how the talent is used. I understand that without God we are nothing on a broader level (life, air, food, etc.). Getting down to every event that occurs in life for anyone is where I get confused. As Christians, we have spiritual favor but all men have physical blessings. Do I gather that correctly?
As for you mentioning you prayed for a job and got one, I guess I'm thinking it's intervening.
I tend to confuse myself with things. I struggle as a Christian sometimes with over analyzing things because I don't want to be too loose or strict. I have a hard time finding balance.
"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Peter 2:11-12).
"Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God" (Psalms 50:23).
It is proper to say that all men also receive spiritual favors. After all, salvation is offered to everyone, regardless of their past and that is a blessing, though many don't accept it. I would put the difference as being more a matter of degree since Christians are blessed in this life as well. But for a Christian, physical blessings are not nearly as important as the spiritual blessings God gives.