I remember those times, as I sat in front of a slot machine in Vegas and prayed for a jackpot. I don’t pray for that anymore. It’s just not going to happen. I’m told that I should be more positive. Ok, I’m positive it’s not going to happen.
Have you prayed to God for something, and felt like you’re getting a “busy signal?” Or perhaps you’ve left a message and He has simply not returned your call? There indeed are things I have stopped praying for or simply don’t bother Him with every day.
Seriously though, I understand when Paul tells us that he prayed for God to remove “a thorn in the flesh,” and God said no, (2 Cor 12:7-9). But He got an answer; and a pretty clear one at that. I must say, it would be nice if all God’s answers to my prayers were that clear.
How do we accept it when we feel like we’re getting that busy signal? Do we get upset with God? Are we angry because He doesn’t give us an answer to our prayer? Do we feel He’s just ignoring us?
In the myriad of questions, we just posed, what are we doing? Sure, we’re complaining, and if that was the first thought that came to your mind, you missed the point.
Conjure up in your mind the last time you were driving down the road and were viciously cut off by another driver. Admit it, even after that driver is long gone, you’re still thinking about them and what they did.
You’re thinking about them. That driver has your undivided attention. Now, reexamine what is really going on (even as we’re complaining) as we ponder the questions above. You’re thinking about God. God has your undivided attention; and that’s what He wants! That’s what He deserves!
There are, of course, other reasons why God might not answer our prayer. In his letter to the 12 tribes, James writes, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures,” (Jas 4:3). (bold=author’s emphasis)
Is praying to “hit the jackpot” on a slot machine involve the wrong motive? I suppose if one was already financially wealthy and still prayed for a jackpot, I might put that in the wrong motive category. But if one is praying for a jackpot; to pay their next month’s rent or another important obligation; would we still consider that a bad motive?
John tells us, “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight,” (1 Jn 3:21-22). (bold=author’s emphasis)
John also wrote in that same letter; “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him, (1 Jn 5:14-15). (bold=author’s emphasis)
There seems to be a consistent theme here. Are we asking for the right reasons? Is that reason consistent with God’s will?
One thing we must do is stop assuming that we are All-Powerful and know what God wants for us! Because the truth is more likely, while we might know He wants salvation for us through Jesus; how He gets us there is a different story.
To be Continued…
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