God may answer prayer in any number of ways. He may combine the laws of nature to bring about results or He may use a law unknown to us. “I love the LORD because He hears my voice and my supplications … [i].” Martin Luther prayed for the dying Melanchthon and he recovered. George Müller built great orphanages in answer to prayer.
Generally God may answer our prayers by employment of our human means. Can a drowning man refuse to lay hold of a rope thrown to him, and yet ask God to save him on account of his faith? Frederick Douglas said that when in slavery he often prayed for freedom, but his prayer was never answered until he prayed on his feet – and ran away! True faith is resting in the Lord while at the same time doing our part.
When seeking to know the specific will of God for our lives, we must not only pray to God, we must also prepare ourselves. We must seek guidance Spirit through the Word, taking into account providential circumstances.
God feeds the birds not by dropping food from heaven into their mouths, but by stimulating them to seek food for themselves; likewise He has given to believers sanctified common sense to be used under His guidance. The believer has wisdom from above. The LORD has promised to instruct and teach us in the way we should go [ii]. James states that “… if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him [iii]” In the Proverbs we read, “In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight [iv].” The apostle Paul prayed without ceasing that his disciples would “…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God [v].”
God’s Spirit through the Word and prayer makes providence real to us. May we open our eyes to see God’s gracious dealings with us in the ordinary things of life.
God gives us nuts, but He does not crack them.
– GERMAN PROVERB
[i] Psalm 116:1-8
[ii] Psalm 32:8
[iii] James 1:5
[iv] Proverb 3:6
[v] Colossians 1:9-10