God Answers Prayer in Only Two Ways

The Gospel Coalition | 2/8/2019 | Staff
newusr01 (Posted by) Level 3
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Most Christians have a moment when they find themselves praying prayers of desperation. I remember mine. It felt like my whole future was falling apart. I sent rushed text messages to friends sharing my pain and asking them to pray for me. I lapsed into a tearful silence, with a sense that words had finally failed me. I needed to call out to God, but I wondered if he would hear me or if he would care. In that moment, what would I call him? How would my prayer start? Who hears me?

We refer to God by different names: God, Lord, Father, Jesus, Spirit, Savior, and countless others. Each sheds light on God’s character. Sometimes we call God by a certain name to emphasize his goodness or his mercy. Sometimes we call on a specific person of the Trinity, like when we pray to the Father. Other times, we may refer to him by his title, “Lord.”

Tearful - Night - Name - Millions - Christians

On that tearful, desperate night, I knew whom to call on. This name wasn’t new. Millions of Christians had called God by it over the ages. It was a name I found in college when I studied the Puritans, a name that began to reshape my idea of who God is and how he loves me.

That name is “Providence.”


Who Is Providence?

The early church father Irenaeus wrote, “The Maker of the universe . . . exercises a providence over all things, and arranges the affairs of our world.” Providence is the way God sovereignly rules all of creation. But it’s more specific than that. Over a millennium later, John Calvin wrote, “He sustains, nourishes, and cares for, everything he has made, even to the last sparrow . . . nothing takes place by chance (1.16.1). God cares. God nourishes. God, in his sovereignty, has in...
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