I think one of the biggest pitfalls we face as Christians is when our prayers go unanswered. Those are moments when we are challenged by doubt, but have opportunities to strengthen our faith.
I always hear about the farmer who prays for rain to grow his crops. In the same town a young boy prays it doesn’t rain so he can go out and play. Which one does God answer?
If it rains the farmer praises God and his crops grow. The boy is sad and doubts God was even listening to him. If it doesn’t rain, the farmer questions if God even cares because he is not providing, but the boy rejoices outside as he plays with his friends.
Now think of all our prayers on a global scale. How can God answer them all? He can’t make it “rain” and “not rain” at the same time, but sometimes we demand that of him. We look at our requests and forget that everyone else in the world is praying to him, too. Yet, most of the time, we treat God as a genie.
GOD IS NOT A GENIE
We tend to treat our prayers as wishes far too often. I remember as a boy when my parents would take me to the mall. In the middle of most malls are water fountains. People tossed coins into them and made wishes.
My parents would give me a quarter and I’d throw it into the fountain, close my eyes, and make a wish. As I got older when I threw in a coin, instead of wishing, I’d make a request to God. I’d ask him for something.
I guess in my young mind I realized that wishes were meaningless, but God actually listened to me. So, I began to treat him like a genie. Throwing coins into the fountain was about the same as my prayer life. I’d hit my knees, say a few vague thank yous, and list my wishes.
Very few of them every came true. So, as I grew up I began to doubt that God actually answered prayer at all. Maybe he wasn’t listening or didn’t care. Maybe he was a crueller God that I had thought. All of these compounded and impacted my faith.
Of course, I was really only asking God to be a genie. I was rubbing the lamp, like Aladdin, and hoping he would come out. He would give me a big smile and say, “What would you like?”.
But God is not a genie. He’s a father. He’s our savior. He’s our king. He is not a granter of wishes and we can’t let it tear down our faith when our prayers go unanswered.
ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you”. Of course, that is when we ask ourselves, “Why wasn’t it given to me?”.The truth is we don’t really know. What we are doing here is taking one tiny sliver of scripture and not looking at the bigger picture.
We know that God loves us. Think of God as your parents when you were growing up. As a kid you asked them for all kinds of crazy things. You didn’t get all of them, though. Maybe you got some of them, but sometimes our parents were protecting us from our own stupidity. Sometimes we just want things that are bad for us.
For example, have you’ve ever seen the kid that gets everything we wants? His parents never tell him no. If he wants cake for breakfast, he gets it. If we wants Grand Theft Auto, he gets it. If he wants that new fowl mouthed rap album, he gets it. Eventually, this kid becomes a fat ungrateful slob.
A good parent knows when to not give us what we want. The worst things we can be are ungrateful Christians. We have been given so much already. God won’t give us every request because every request we make won’t be good for us. We are going to ask for some bad things and thank goodness God lovingly protects us by not giving them to us.
ONLY GOOD THINGS
Matthew 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in Heaven give good things to them that ask Him?
Look were the word “good” is placed in this scripture.
This is what Jesus was saying when he spoke, “Ask, and it shall be given to you.” He will give us the things we ask him for, but not the things that are bad for us. Only the things that are good for us. That is hard to see sometimes because we are shortsighted. We only see the world through our eyes, but God see everything.
When our prayers go unanswered it is hard. Maybe we have to wait longer. Maybe it is just not good for us. Maybe we need to suffer a specific trial in order to become more like Christ. Whatever the reason is we can rest in the knowledge that God answers our good requests.
We should always seek his will, give thanks to him, and ask. He will give us the good things we ask for. We just have to trust that sometimes the things we think are good are actually bad. That can be painful at times, but the truth remains. God is good.