Thursday, 31 December 2015
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 2 Corinthians 12:8
Paul’s thorn in the flesh was something that he was so despondent over that he petitioned the Lord three times that it might be taken away from him. Why Paul chose to continue after the first time and to cease at three times isn’t stated, but it could be that he first had on his mind the parable of the persistent widow found in Luke 18:1-8. He knew that sometimes a prayer isn’t answered right away, but that we are to be determined in our prayer lives.
However, after the third petition, he ceased. Maybe this was because the Lord Jesus in Matthew 26:39-46 only petitioned His Father three times in Gethsemane concerning His own coming trial. Paul may have felt that to go beyond what Christ petitioned would be inappropriate. This is all speculation, but he is clear and precise in his words. Concerning his thorn, he “pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.”
It is significant for the believer in Jesus Christ to note that Paul “pleaded with the Lord.” In other words, his prayers and petitions were directed to Jesus personally. Thus, it is appropriate to pray to Him and to expect Him to be the One to respond in whatever way He chooses. In other words, it is to be inferred that Jesus Christ is fully God and that He is fully capable of handling His responsibilities within the Godhead for all of His people. Paul has set the example which we may now follow by petitioning the Lord in this manner.
Life application: This verse gives us a general guideline for a few important issues. The first is that we may petition the Lord Jesus in prayer. The second is that we should be persistent in our prayers. It’s not that the Lord might not have heard us the first time, but that there are reasons He chooses to not respond immediately. A third reason is that there is a time when we should cease in our prayers. For Paul’s particular case, it was three times. This is not to be considered a set amount for every occasion though.
Lord Jesus, we can know that You faithfully hear every prayer raised to You. But examples found right in the Bible show us that You don’t always respond to our first prayer. Instead, You have shown that we should be diligent in bringing the same matter up as it comes to our heart. And Your word also shows us that sometimes we will receive what we ask for and other times we won’t. Help us to understand the reasons behind Your decisions. But even if we don’t receive that information, grant us the ability to always say, “Your will be done.” Thank You that we can always come to Your throne of grace. Amen.