In II Samuel Chapter 21, a story is told about a famine in the time of King David, that lasted for several years. Because of it, David sought the Lord and was told that the famine was in response to the evil actions of King Saul (the previous king) against the Gibeonites. David decides to make right on the wrong and asks the Gibeonites what they will take. They want seven of King Saul’s male descendents given to them so they can publicly hang them. King David agrees and selects the unfortunate individuals.
The Gibeonites take them and hang them, leaving their bodies hanging until they rot. One of the grieving mothers goes out and for days lives on the ground below her two dead sons, to keep the birds and animals away. It is a terrible heart wrenching story. Once the awful restitution is complete, the Bible says, they prayed for the land and God moved. The famine finally came to an end.
What if they did not seek the Lord on why their prayers were not answered? What if they just kept on praying and not receiving? Someone would then come up with a convoluted theological reason on why God did not move on their behalf. It would probably include something about the open-ended nature of God’s promises and His sovereignty.
If we do not receive we need to find out why. We need to seek God on it. Seeking is a vital part of the prayer process. The Bibles says:
“Remind me of what happened (or, Put me on record). Let us argue our case together. State your case so that you can prove you are right.” Isaiah 43:26
I have done much study on the above verse and after reading many translations and commentaries I have come up with my own expanded version, it is as follows:
“Put Me formally on record; let us argue the case and govern together (judge ourselves and our opponents at law); Sum up our decision and declare our judgment, that you may be proved right and made whole.” Isaiah 43:26 My Own Translation
Sometimes, many times, during this seeking period we find that actions are required before an answer will come. Sometimes the actions are easy, such as a simple heart change. Other times, like the story above, they can be extremely costly and difficult. Picking seven young men for a gruesome death is a horrendous task. He could have chosen not to do it, but then the famine would not have been lifted. I think we can all relate to difficult things the Lord has required of us. I only wish that I could say that I had done all of them, but I have not. I wonder about the things that could have happened in my life if I had done them.
Prayer and receiving from God is not a formula driven process. It is us openly and honestly relating to a personal God about a personal thing, in a very intimate and personal way. That is how He designed it, and that is how we are to go about it. Without that, He will not answer.