Answered Prayer

Matthew 18-19-20 - 1

Christians throughout the world have been praying for the release of prisoners in Iran for years. This fall, Christians gathered to pray for Pastor Saeed, the other prisoners in Iran, and the persecuted church in other countries. On September 26, we joined a symphony of prayer around the world on behalf of these prisoners.

God hears our prayers, and God answers our prayers in His timing and in His wisdom.

“Perhaps the exact petition which they offer may not apparently be answered. Remember that God often hears the prayer of our prayers, and answers that rather than our prayers themselves; by which I mean, that there is an inner soul within true prayer which is the quickening life of true supplication.” (Spurgeon)

While the men were prisoners, God was at work in their lives and in the lives of those around them. Prisoners and guards learned of the freedom that Jesus holds out to them, a freedom beyond walls and bars, beyond beatings and persecution. Some became Christians. Prisoners for years, but freedom for eternity.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

While we were praying for release, the Holy Spirit perfected our prayers as they approached the Father. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your intercession.

Our prayers now turn to restoration and healing.

they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

My prayer

Father, thank You for bringing the four prisoners home and ending their persecution. Father, they are wounded physically and mentally. As they waited upon You in prison, they wait upon You now. We pray for Your healing touch upon the former prisoners, upon their families, and upon their churches. Renew their strength. Bless them, Father, for the greater works that You will accomplish through them. Father, we also pray for those Christians who are still being persecuted. Empower them with Your presence and help them to feel You as You carry them. Thank You, Father, for Your love and saving grace.

 

Roman Colosseum, a memorial to death pointing to Jesus

Colloseum

Built on the site of Nero’s palace in 80 AD, the Roman Colosseum entertained 55,000 spectators at a time with deadly gladiator and wild animal fights. Over 9,000 wild animals were killed during the inaugural games. Some sources say that Christians were persecuted outside the Colosseum. Early entertainment focused on death.

others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill- treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:35-40

Keith and I recently climbed the Colosseum’s stone and marble stairs, walked the levels, and imagined the slaves, gladiators, prisoners of war, and wild animals as they awaited their battles and eventual death.

Scaffolding stood against the outer wall. My reaction, “I would just let it fall down.”

We dodged the tourists mindlessly snapping photos, circled the amphitheater, and stopped directly across from the emperor’s box. The emperor’s thumb up saved a life; a thumb down took a life.

A cross stood in front of the emperor’s seat.

Colosseum Cross

An estimated 4.4 million people visit the Colosseum each year, and there that cross stands as a memorial to those who died inside and outside that great arena.

When Joseph’s father died, and his brothers were afraid that Joseph would harm them because they had sold him into slavery, Joseph told his brothers:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. Genesis 50:21

What men meant for evil, God meant for good … for a memorial to the death of His own dear Son, Jesus, on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, so that all who believe on Jesus will be saved from their sins.

My prayer for you:

Righteous Father, awaken us to the memorials You have placed in our paths. May we be living memorials to Your righteous and true nature as we walk the path that You have given us. Thank You for the memorials that You have placed along the way.