Have you ever asked God for something, and although you think He has come through for you, you're not 100 percent sure it was God's will that was done? You might even go so far as to believe coincidence best describes your answered prayer. It would be a whole lot easier if God sent us answered prayers via delivery trucks the way UPS™ and Federal Express® bring our packages. Imagine the excitement of seeing the Answered Prayer Delivery Truck (APDT for short) coming down your street. You run out to meet the driver and sign the invoice for your answered prayer. You are then handed a copy of the document that certifies God has indeed answered your specific prayer at a definite date and time. Wouldn't that be fantastic?
I don't think the Answered Prayer Delivery Truck is ever going to become a reality, so we believers in a higher power—One who is actually concerned with human events—must rely on the promises of God in His Holy Word that He answers prayer. In 1 Chronicles, the Reubenites and the Gadites were successful in their battle against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab because they prayed and trusted in God (see 1 Chron. 5:20). In the book of Ezra, God provides safe passage for His followers because they "fasted and petitioned God." (see Ezra 8:21–23) And when Jonah was inside the belly of a whale and near death, his prayer for a second chance to do God's will was granted because God heard Jonah's prayers in His "holy temple." (see Jonah 2:1–7)
Searching the Bible for examples of answered prayer will result in a lot of convincing material to cite, but I will also point out that the mere fact that God has created everything that exists means He also created coincidence. If we pray to have safe travel, and we safely travel somewhere, be it coincidence or supernatural intervention, God was in some way involved. We could not travel anywhere if we didn't exist. There would be no place to travel to if our planet had not been created. And if God decides He wants us to be with Him, safe travel may not be in the works—be it the result of coincidence or Heavenly intervention.
Answered prayer may not always involve dramatic circumstances that can be scientifically evaluated for authenticity (and even those rare cases are often disputed by nonbelievers), but we should never doubt that the God who created the universe can tweak the little things in life. Whether we are praying to do well on a math test or asking God to heal us from cancer, we are probably never going to be able to look out our front door and yell, "The Answered Prayer Delivery Truck is here! The Answered Prayer Truck is here!" But we will always know that God has promised to take into account everything we ask of Him. "[A]nd His ears are attentive to their prayer." (1 Pet. 3:12b NIV) Let's continue to raise our voices to those attentive ears.
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Good aricle, Dan. I have had prayers answered in which I had no doubt God was directly answering, though they did not come through a delivery truck. They definitely were not merely chance. I believe God is active in a Christian's life. But, I like your analogy. Thomas