The God Who Answers Prayer Before Being Asked

Isaiah the prophet more than five hundred years before Christ, spoke about a time when God would answer prayer before His people ask.

…they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear (Isaiah 65:23-24).

This is a story written by a doctor who worked in Africa:

“One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labor ward; but in spite of all we could do, she died, leaving us with a tiny, premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator (we had no electricity to run an incubator). We also had no special feeding facilities.

Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous drafts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool that the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst (rubber perishes easily in tropical climates). 
’And it is our last hot water bottle!’ she exclaimed. As in the West, it is no good crying over spilled milk, so in Central Africa it might be considered no good crying over burst water bottles, they do not grow on trees, and there are no drugstores down forest pathways. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from drafts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.’

The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with any of the orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle, and that the baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During prayer time, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. ‘Please, God’ she prayed, ‘Send us a hot water bottle today. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.’ While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the prayer, she added, ‘And while You are about it, would You please send a dolly for the little girl so she’ll know You really love her?’ As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say ‘Amen?’ I just did not believe that God could do this. 
Oh, yes, I know that He can do everything; the Bible says so. But there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from the homeland.

I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time, and I had never, ever, received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the equator! Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there on the verandah was a large 22-pound parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I could not open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly colored, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas – that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the…could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out. Yes, a brand new, rubber hot water bottle. I cried. I had not asked God to send it; I had not truly believed that He could.

Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, ‘If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!’ Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted! Looking up at me, she asked, ‘Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so that she’ll know that Jesus really loves her?’ ‘Of course,’ I replied! That parcel had been on the way for five whole months, packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had heard and obeyed God’s prompting to send a hot water bottle, even to the equator. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child – five months before, in answer to the believing prayer of a ten-year-old to bring it ‘that afternoon.’ ‘Before they call, I will answer’ (Isaiah 65:24).

What a wonderful answer to a very specific prayer. The joy that a child of God feels when a specific answer to prayer is received goes far beyond just the answer itself. It is also a reminder to us that God keeps His promises, that He is mindful of us, and that we are able to call on our Father in this new day of prayer. Maybe today is a good day for you to begin praying in Jesus’ name for whatever your need is.

Keith Thomas

My Father’s House Has Many Rooms

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

It was the night of the Last Supper, before Jesus was to be crucified. Jesus had just told his followers that He was going to be leaving them through the door of death. As Christ looked around the table at His disciples, His heart went out to them. When our hearts are troubled, stressed, fearful and uncertain, when it seems as if our world is caving in—we are to remember what Jesus said here in this passage: “my Father’s house has many rooms” (John 14:2). No matter what is going on in your mind and heart, no matter how broken you are, no matter what you are going through, there is a place in the Father’s house for you. He’s saying it to Peter and the disciples, but He is also saying it to us.  Deep down within the very soul of each person born into this world is a yearning for a better place:

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

It is said that Professor T. H. Huxley, the famous agnostic (who, by the way, invented the term “agnostic” and applied it to himself), reversed his views prior to his death and came to believe in God and a future life. As he lay dying (so his nurse reported), he raised himself on his elbows and gazed into the distance as if surveying some invisible scene, then dropped back on his pillow and murmured: “So it was true! So it was true!”[1]

Yes, it is true. In the Father’s house there are many rooms. Perhaps you have read the King James Version, which translates the Greek word monai as mansions, but the term really means dwelling places or rooms. The picture is that we will live with God in His house—that His house has many rooms for us to abide with Him. For those of you that have lived with the insecurity of moving from place to place, and in dismal circumstances, take hope! We are talking about having an eternal house in the heavens where we will be at home with God forever! When Jesus said; “I am going to prepare a place for you, we should not think in terms of Jesus the carpenter building each of us a physical home. The Greek word that is translated ‘prepare’ is hetoimazō, the word that is used of an oriental custom of sending a person before kings on their journeys to level the roads and make them passable. The word was also used to describe the disciples going to prepare the Upper Room for the Passover feast (Luke 22:9, 12). The sad departure of Christ was for the way to be prepared for the disciples and us to follow Him to the Father’s house. He went ahead of us to make the way to God “passable” for us.

So that we get a picture of what heaven will be like, the scriptures tell us of a time when a heavenly city will come down from heaven to earth—a city that is prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Notice who we will be living with:

 1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:1-4).

 How wonderful it will be to live with God—the pain of this world will be dried from our eyes by the gentle touch of the Lord Himself. I think He has purposely not told us much about heaven, because many of us would want out of this world before our time. In another place Paul the apostle tells us:

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

In our wildest dreams and imaginations of heaven we cannot imagine how good it will be for those of us who walk with Christ on this earth. If your heart is troubled by the way this world is, and what you are going through, let your mind and heart be fortified with the fact that you will one day be with God Himself in His holy house. How that must have encouraged Peter, especially after he had denied Christ, that there was room for even him after he had denied his Lord. Will you be in that place with Christ? You can be! Ask Christ to come into your life and forgive your sin—receive the free gift of life—I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

If you would like to read more on this topic, this meditation was taken from the study, found on this page under the Book of John studies, John 14:1-14—Jesus the Way

Keith Thomas

[1]  Every Day With Jesus, May-June 1996 edition, Crusade for World Revival.

The Tent We Live in

1For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life (2 Corinthians 5:1-4).

When Paul the apostle writes to the church at Corinth, he compares the earthly body that we live in to a tent, a short-term, impermanent home. What he is saying is that the real you, your spirit, is clothed with your fleshly body for the fifty to seventy years that you live on Earth. He says that when this “earthy tent” is destroyed, we have something much more permanent in heaven, a building from God, a home that is eternal, a body that is not built by human hands (v.1), a heavenly dwelling (v.2). As we get older, we become more and more aware of our mortality—we groan and are burdened and become more and more convinced that there has to be more to this life than what we see with our physical senses. If only we could see this truth—that we are created for eternity and not just for this world, that we are just passing through. It would change everything for us if we truly believed it. Paul goes on to say that we are fashioned for this very purpose and that what is beyond death is the true life. The Holy Spirit living in us is a guarantee of what is beyond the veil of death:

5Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 5:5).

A Christian enters heaven without a break in consciousness. Back on earth our friends bury our body, but they do not bury us! Personhood survives the death of the body. In the Bible, the Book of Acts, there is the story of a man of God named Stephen. As he was dying, he said, “Lord, receive my spirit.” He did not say, “Receive my body.” There was no break in consciousness for him—the Lord was standing up from His normal seated position at the right hand of the Father to receive him (Acts 7:59). We would live very different lives if we truly believed that our life on earth is just transitory. If we believed that when we put off the tent of this body, we enter into true life (I’m presuming that you have received the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus), we would invest our time, energy, gifts and resources into more things that will last after we get rid of our earthly tent. What would God have us invest ourselves in this side of heaven? He would have us invest in what is important to Him—people. Seeking to help as many as we can to know God and be saved from the penalty of sin.

Sometimes as people are dying, their spirit often drifts between earth and heaven where they can see both worlds. A few hours before Dwight L. Moody, the great American evangelist died, he caught a glimpse of the glory awaiting him.  Awakening from sleep, he said: “Earth recedes, heaven opens before me.  If this is death, it is sweet!  There is no valley here.  God is calling me, and I must go!”  His son who was standing by his bedside said, “No, no father, you are dreaming.”  “No,” said Mr. Moody, “I am not dreaming; I have been within the gates; I have seen the children’s faces.” A short time elapsed and then, following what seemed to the family to be the death struggle, he spoke again: “This is my triumph; this my coronation day!  It is glorious!”

My prayer is that you would ask the Lord to give you the free gift of eternal life that Jesus has bought for you in dying in your place. My prayer is that we will see Mr. Moody together and rejoice in the finished work of our Savior on our behalf. Keith Thomas

“Ask for Whatever You Want Me to Give You”

King Solomon was just a young man when he was anointed King over all Israel. Soon after becoming king, God tested his inner motives by offering to give King Solomon whatever he wanted, it was his choice, and nothing was off the table. God said to him:

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).

Solomon responded correctly to the test. Because of the weight of the responsibility that was on his shoulders, and because of his youth and inexperience at leading a nation of five or six million people, he asked God for the gift of wisdom that he could govern correctly and distinguish between right and wrong (1 Kings 3:9). God was pleased at the motive that issued from the young man’s heart. Because he didn’t ask for the death of his enemies or wealth for himself, God not only gave him his hearts desire but also riches and honor more than any other man before him or after him.

If the God of the universe came to you today and asked you what one thing you wanted, what would you ask for? Be careful how you respond—for He is listening! Surely you would think hard and carefully if God made such an offer to you. Maybe you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Maybe you are from a poor family and your aged parents are looking to you to provide for them. The weight of the responsibility hangs heavy on you—what should you ask for? Maybe you have been through hard, difficult times and you would like life to be easier, different, and more meaningful. Perhaps what you do in life gives you the feeling that you are making no difference with what you do every day—is there anything more discouraging? I had years as a commercial fisherman where I cried out to God for Him to use me.  Day after day I was out at sea not making a difference in anyone’s life, for it was just my father and me alone on our boat. But there came a day when God called me from my nets to cast out His nets. Don’t despise the day of small things when God is teaching you in the waiting time. The time at sea was spent in many hours of reading and meditating on the Bible. When I look back I see that I was being trained for what I am doing now. It was the small things and a correct heart attitude that led me to now work with my other Father with His nets.

“Who dares despise the day of small things” (Zechariah 4:10).

When I look back on a full life of serving my Lord for 39 years now, some of my best times of intimacy with Christ were out on the North Sea off the coast of England alone with my father and my Lord. It was the testing time when God was working on the inside of my heart to prepare me for what I am doing now, writing words that reach your heart—I trust God inspired words. I put it to you that the greatest need of every man, woman and child on planet earth is to be right with God through faith in Christ. This is what God would have you ask Him for.

28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28-29).

God wants for you to ask Him for the gift that He so freely wants to give you—the gift of eternal life in Christ His Son. There is no work to be done. It is the finished work of Christ that satisfies the Father’s justice. If you ask for this, just like Solomon, you will get everything else too!

32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32).

Keith Thomas

What on Earth are you Building?

As Jesus was leaving the Temple that day, one of his disciples said, “Teacher, look at these tremendous buildings! Look at the massive stones in the walls!” Jesus replied, “These magnificent buildings will be so completely demolished that not one stone will be left on top of another” (Mark 13:1-2).

Herod’s Temple was one of the Wonders of the World in its day. In the time of Christ it had been in the building for 46 years (John 2:20) and as Christ was talking, the building had still not been completed. The Jewish people were very proud of Herod’s Temple; it was one of the ways that Herod was trying to win his way into the Jewish people’s heart, even though he lived an ungodly life. I have lived in Jerusalem for more than a year and a half of my life and many times have walked up on the Temple Mount and reflected on the fact that every stone was literally thrown down just as Christ prophesied. It was totally destroyed in 70 A.D. by the Roman General Titus. Josephus the historian speaks of more than a million Jews were killed while the Romans set fire to the Temple. The gold of the Temple melted into the cracks between the bricks so every brick was separated, looting the gold and throwing the large magnificent stones from the Temple Mount.

When Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman in John 4, the big issue to her was whether or not she should worship at the temple that was in Samaria or the one in Jerusalem. Jesus said, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (vs.21-23). What was He saying?

God is not as interested about buildings as us. What He is more concerned about is the temple of the heart. Paul the Apostle wrote about this when he said “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 6:19). It’s seems to me like he was writing something that was 101 basic Christianity to the Church in Corinth using the words “Don’t you know” to remind them.

Isn’t it easy to get sidetracked into building what can be seen by men rather than what is seen only by God? I notice that the first Temple was called Solomon’s Temple, the second being Herod’s Temple. Maybe that is why God allowed the magnificent structure of the Temple buildings to be destroyed. The buildings were about what men had built. I don’t want to be disappointed at the end of my life by what I have built with my time, energy and money, and I don’t want you to be disappointed either. Jesus said that we were to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:2-3). Is it about me? Does it have my name on it? Why am I building it? Is my labor truly glorifying to him or is it bringing glory to me? Is it magnificent to men but lacks value to God?

The things we build here on earth may be magnificent for a time but have little if any lasting value. The things that last are issues of the heart and character. I am convinced that many of you will be greatly rewarded for things that man has not recognized but God alone has seen.

Prayer: Please don’t let me get sidetracked into investing into things of this world; I truly want to build something that is glorifying to you.

Keith Thomas