Friends, today, I will open my heart to you—part of it. Part of it! I've been wrestling in prayer with the Lord on a subject that has been taking a lot of my time, a lot of my attention and a lot of my energy as president of this conference. And this subject is a longtime development project our conference has been engaged in for more than 40 years.
That’s a lot of time. The past six presidents had to lead and deal with this project, and we have not been able to close it.
Since the 1980s, our top conference leadership has been involved in the development and divestment of a conference property in Newbury Park next to our academy and elementary school–not the schools but next to them. Both schools are safe. No worries!
Money was invested and borrowed to develop portions of the land. Some lots have been sold, and the money has been reinvested to develop and keep selling, but not all of it have been recovered.
For the last 10 years, we have been trying to sell the largest piece of land that, if sold, would clear most of the funds borrowed and advanced from the conference. We are talking about some millions.
It is a very complex and challenging situation.
However, I’m not going to engage in details about this matter, saga or nightmare, if you will, for four decades. This subject has been reported, addressed and discussed at every Constituency Session for 40 years.
And this issue has been a matter of prayer for a long time.
I have witnessed conference presidents praying, begging and actually crying out at the Lord for His intervention. Groups of people at school boards and executive committee meetings imploring and pleading the Lord for a solution and conclusion.
My point with the Lord in prayer is related to His intervention…in MY way, in OUR way, within OUR expectations.
Even I have asked Him, “Lord, why are you silent? Or am I deaf to your voice? Please, speak to me!”
Friends, how can we understand God in those moments when we face challenges, when we are approaching difficulties and there is no answer, at least in our way? Let me read what 1 John 5:14-15 says: "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him."
Had you ever asked if prayer really works? I have. Maybe we have been tempted to think that praying is a waste of time, that God doesn't listen, why bother Him? He already knows all things, and how things are going to go.
But, today, I want to let you know something. The reality is that prayer works because God is in control—not in my time, not in my way, not in my desires. He is in control for His purposes. The sovereignty of God is the basis for all the miracles. He has all the power in heaven and earth; therefore, His intentions and His desires prevail.
But I need, we need, to trust His wisdom and grace. And as our faith matures, we need to understand that God has a wider view of our circumstances than we do. He knows better what is best for us. God has unlimited resources available to us. Actually, in the New Testament, 20 times God encourages us to ask Him anything. If He encourages us to ask, it is because He is able, He is resourceful and He is in control. Right? Otherwise, He would not say that!
We may not change situations, but praying, things can change—in me, in my heart, in my mind—to understand His timetable, to understand His purpose, to understand His love for me and for this world as well, because I need to learn to trust Him. You may think if God this really in control of everything, and I pray and ask God to change things, why don't we always get what we pray for?
Here a few reasons we can consider.
God is not a wizard. This doesn't mean we get whatever we want just because we pray. If God answers every prayer, we will be spoiled brats. Question: Do parents give everything to the children when they ask or what they ask? Probably not. We adults, we parents, we know what is best for them. We have a bigger picture. If we as adults and parents can see the bigger picture for our children, how much wider a picture God can see?
Many times also we pray in conflict. The funny thing is that we Christians pray for different outcomes on the same matter. An easy example of that is sports games. It can be a football, basketball, volleyball or any other sport. Both teams and fans pray because they want to win. And when they score, the player looks at heaven thankfully for the help and the blessing he received. The question now is: Which player's prayer will God answer? God can't answer each prayer in the same way at the same time. In reality, the Lord knows what is best. We don't.
The Bible says: this is the confidence that we have before him, that whenever we ask anything, according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have ask from Him. That's why Jesus prayed, "Father, if you're willing, take this cup away from me. Yet not my will, but Yours be done."
Friends, prayer works. It isn't a waste of time. God is in control and He wants to listen your prayers, and my prayers. He is listening.
Since He is listening, I invite you to join us for the week of encouragement this October 2-9, 2021. On October 9, we are inviting you to set aside that day for fasting and prayer. Our conference prayer team will guide us. Keep an eye out; you will receive more information about this. Please set aside this time, and let us begin to pray that that day, the Lord can work in our hearts, in my heart, in my mind, for me to be in tune with Him.
Lord Jesus, help us all to understand Your time. Amen.