Berean Digest

Tavares D. Mathews

What Profit If We Pray?

“Where was God?” – Part 2

There are plenty of Scriptures which indicate that God will always be there for the righteous. Which indicate that He will never forsake those who are His. But, at the same time, there are equally abundant accounts in Biblical history where God’s servants are persecuted and even killed for standing up for Him. What should we make of such? The first place of which we see the righteous ill-treated is in the case of Abel. Where was God when Cain lifted his hand to murder his innocent brother? Even Jesus called Abel a righteous man (Matt. 23:35; cf. Heb. 11:4).

In this article, we want to take a look at Scriptures which acknowledge that God is able to deliver the righteous. We will take note of scriptural accounts when the righteous is delivered and others when they are not. We will notice cases when one righteous person is delivered while the others are not.

Let us begin by noticing that the Scriptures affirm the fact that God can and will deliver the righteous. Furthermore, they assert that God answers the prayers of the righteous. The Scriptures also emphasize that God cares about the burdens which we bear.

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter 3:12,13)  

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).

These scriptures attest to the fact that God is able to protect those who are His. They inform us that we may ask God what we will and He will give us those things – for He continuously cares for us.

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s statue, they refused. But, notice the account.

[O]ur God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up”. (Daniel 3:17, 18)

Did you hear that? They affirmed that God could deliver, but they did not infringe on the prerogative of God if He chose not to deliver. They knew without a doubt that God could in fact deliver them. God in fact did deliver them, but not in the way one would think. Instead of not allowing them to be cast into the fiery furnace, he chose rather to be with them and to protect them while they were in the fire. What a God!

There may be times in the Christian’s life when one asserts, “surely God will deliver me”, but what if he chooses not to? The prayers of the righteous avails much, but what if your prayer is not answered in the way in which you have requested (Jam. 5:16). What if you prayed fervently and your loved one did not recover? What if you pray faithfully and you still lose your job, your wife or your child? Should your faith in God fail? By no means! Does that mean that you were not as faithful as you thought? Does that mean that God has failed you? By no means! God is still in control. God is still faithful. God is still good.

Let us notice again a verse that we introduced earlier.

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (1 Peter 3:12 -14).


The verse clearly asks the question – “Who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?”, but then with the next stroke of the pen Peter says, “But and if ye suffer”. How do we reconcile such? While God is able to deliver us that does not mean that God will always deliver us while we are down here. God’s overall objective is to make us into His image and sometimes this is done through trials (James 1:2-3). God’s plan is not our plan.

In the twelfth chapter of Acts, we observe that James is killed while Peter is imprisoned and miraculously delivered. Both were servants of God. Both were apostles of Christ. Why did this occur?

Let us notice the account of Paul, an apostle.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” 2 Cor. 12:7–10). 

God listened to Paul’s prayer, but God’s response was: “No, I will not remove your infirmity”. But, God gave him strength to endure – His grace was sufficient. Epaphroditus was delivered from his sickness (Phil. 2:25-27), but Paul had to endure his affliction for the remainder of his journey on earth (2 Cor. 12:9). Is there inequality with God? (Ezekiel 18:25) Not at all!

Likewise, God does not always remove our infirmities. Sometimes we may have to live with a particular illness for the duration of our lives. Does that mean that God has failed us? By no means! His grace is still sufficient.

As God’s providential hand is seen in the lives of our Biblical counterparts, even today God rules in the realm of providence to answer our prayers. But, we must remember that God knows what is best for us as we pray for His will ultimately to be done. Sometimes this is easier said than done. When a loved one or even we ourselves are suffering from an incurable illness, how do we find strength to press forward? Notice what Paul goes on to say after God tells Him that he will have to endure the infirmity from now on: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (1 Cor. 12:10). Can we proclaim the same?

Lastly, sometimes God does not answer our prayers in the way in which we would have thought. Paul had never met the saints of Rome. He prayed to God for the opportunity to preach the gospel there as well (Rom. 1:10, 11). But, how did his arrival into the imperial city come about? He was a prisoner en route to see the Emperor. God indeed answered his prayer, but not as one would have imagined. There are times in the Christian’s life today when God does the same thing. But, when the end result is accomplished, we stand in awe as to how God answered our request. God loves us and He desires the best for us. He will work in our lives to bring out the best in us. We must accept His will no matter how difficult it may be or even though we may not fully understand why. We should find assurance in knowing that even though we may not know, we serve a God who knows all.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”(Rom. 11:33).                

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”(2 Cor. 4:17).

In conclusion: God is always in the same place He was when His Son was mistreated – when His Son was suffering – when His Son was hung on a tree. He will continue to be in the exact same place until Christ returns.