2 Corinthians 12:8 and Answer to Prayer

I just found that I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, although not very much lately. II thougt I would post some from the archives:

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 12:8-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Three times he pleaded for his affliction to be taken away. This is reminiscent of Jesus praying three times in Gethsemane. “So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again.” (Matthew 26:44) “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 b)

We can see that Jesus and Paul were persistent in prayer. Maybe there is significance in comparing the fact that Paul and Jesus both prayed three times but that isn’t a magic formula. Jesus may have prayed that same thing many times before that night. And Paul received a definite answer after three times.

The parables that illustrate persistence in prayer are the impudent friend in Luke 11:5-10 and the bothersome widow in Luke 18:1-8.

Both Jesus and Paul got an answer of “no” to one of their most fervent prayers. This should give us comfort when we and our loved ones don’t get what we wish.

But by no means is that the end of it. God accomplished in Paul and Jesus much more after an answer of “no” than anyone would imagine. God is good (Nahum 1:7) and His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,” I never thought that this could apply to the answer of “no” until now.

As far as our prayers go, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians Garland says, “Calvin explains that there are two kinds of answers to prayer:

We ask without qualification for those things about which we have sure promise, such as the perfecting of God’s kingdom and the hallowing of His name, the forgiveness of sins and everything profitable* to us. But when we imagine that God’s kingdom can and indeed must be furthered in such and such a way, or that this or that is necessary for the hallowing of His name, we are often mistaken, just as, in the same way, we are often deluded as to what in fact tends to our own welfare.

We can ask with full confidence for what is certainly promised to us, but ‘we cannot prescribe the means.’ God may grant the end that we ask for in prayer, but God may use a means that we do not desire.”

*I’m guessing his definition of “profitable” may be different than what we may think.

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