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The apostle Paul had “unanswered” prayers

January 31, 2022

Daily Scripture

Romans 15:30-32; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Romans 15:30-32

30 Brothers and sisters, I urge you, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggles in your prayers to God for me. 31 Pray that I will be rescued from the people in Judea who don’t believe. Also, pray that my service for Jerusalem will be acceptable to God’s people there 32 so that I can come to you with joy by God’s will and be reenergized with your company.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

7 I was given a thorn in my body because of the outstanding revelations I’ve received so that I wouldn’t be conceited. It’s a messenger from Satan sent to torment me so that I wouldn’t be conceited. 8 I pleaded with the Lord three times for it to leave me alone. 9 He said to me, “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. 10 Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul, one of God’s most loyal servants, asked Roman Christians to pray that God would rescue him in Jerusalem so he could travel freely to Rome. That didn’t happen (cf. Acts 21:27-36). He wrote to Corinth that he prayed three times for God to remove a “thorn in my body” (a bodily ailment). He never gave more detail, but clearly wished he didn’t have to deal with the issue in his missionary travels. God did not fix the physical problem, but Paul said he “gladly” trusted God’s nurturing grace.

  • Paul did not blame God for causing his ailment. He did plead with the Lord “three times for it to leave me alone” (i.e. to heal it). Much of Paul’s travel must have been on foot. How strong a case can you imagine him making for God to restore him to full health? Did the fact that his physical problem persisted mean God didn’t care about him or his important mission?
  • When Roman Christians learned that Paul had met hostility in Jerusalem (perhaps when he arrived in Rome under arrest—cf. Acts 28:13-15), should they have decided praying for Paul was pointless? Their prayers didn’t produce the outcome they had all hoped for, so why did Paul give “thanks to God” rather than complaining about their unanswered prayers?
  • Paul also realized that sometimes we don’t even know what to say to God in prayers (cf. Romans 8:26-27). Click here for Craig Courtney’s musical setting of that idea, called “My Wordless Prayer.”

Lord Jesus, I’m human, and you know I’d rather get what I ask for rather than not. Help my trust in you to keep growing, even at times when things don’t turn out the way I pray they will. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Kersee Meyer

Kersee Meyer

Kersee is a part of the Resurrection Experience team at the church and works alongside other creative folks to make videos to connect people to community, their faith and God.

We’re a society focused on our talents. The better you are at something, the more value some would see in you.

We know God can use our talents, but it’s hard to believe God can or even wants to use our weakness. That God can use the parts that might bring pain, suffering or shame is harder to imagine.

One of my weaknesses is my own self-doubt. I’ve allowed it to get in the way one too many times. I allow it to follow me like a thick fog that just won’t pass. I’ve prayed to God to take it away. I just want it to vanish from me, but my prayer is still unanswered.

With all the doubt that my weakness causes for me, I can only hope to be like Paul. To allow God to take it and use it because “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.”

I’m still praying that my weakness will vanish from me, that this thorn will be removed. But since it probably won’t, I’ve decided to change my prayer.

God, please allow me to be hyper-focused on you when I experience self-doubt.
Help me to know I’m loved because you love me. Use this part of me to grow into something meaningful and useful for myself and others. Even in the midst of my doubt help me to lean on you. Amen.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.