Having been chosen by God, we of course are given the peace of knowing eventually we’ll be in heaven, regardless of what happens on earth. But while we are on earth, especially those of us who are young and have quite a while, do those people less fortunate in terms of physical and mental well-being have any teachings to rest their hope on? I do understand that good things come out of bad situations. We can learn and use them to help others and learn to rest on God instead of earthly things. But I’m wondering, when we pray persistently and faithfully that, if it is his will, he delivers us from whatever kind of suffering or poverty we may be facing, is that something we have any scriptural grounds to be hopeful for when we pray for that? Or is it something we shouldn’t focus on? A lot of devotions I see focus on having hope for after we die as an answer to our earthly suffering. While I plan to continuously stay reminded of that, at the same time, I want to know how I should approach and view the here and now too. I’ve been trying to understand verses such as Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 12:12, 1 Peter 5:10. Thank you.
Prayer is a great privilege Christians have. Through prayer, we can communicate with God. That communication can include petitions, requests, that we present to God. “Can we pray for deliverance from temporal suffering or poverty?” you ask. We certainly can.
Think of the last petition in the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us from evil.” Luther explained the petition this way in his Catechism: “In conclusion, we pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil that threatens body and soul, property and reputation, and finally when our last hour comes, grant us a blessed end and graciously take us from this world of sorrow to himself in heaven.” In that petition of the Lord’s Prayer, we ask for final deliverance from this world of sin, but we also pray for deliverance from earthly troubles before death takes place. Since we do not know what God might have in mind for us, we pray with the attitude and words of “your will be done.”
2 Thessalonians 3:2 gives us an example of someone praying for deliverance from earthly troubles. In fact, the apostle Paul was requesting the prayers of fellow believers for that purpose. We find a similar request in Romans 15:31. Matthew 26:39 informs us that Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father for the “cup of suffering” to be removed from his life. But he prayed, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jeremiah 29:11 is often taken out of context. The verse contains a specific promise made to the exiles who were in Babylon. Romans 12:12 encourages us to be “patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” Such prayer can also include requests for God to alleviate or remove our affliction, if that is his will. 1 Peter 5:10 reminds us that our earthly troubles are temporary; a glorious future awaits.
So, keep offering “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving” to God (1 Timothy 2:1). Be assured that God hears and answers all the prayers of his children.