Picture a man in a small rowboat on a pond doing some fishing. Suddenly he notices his feet are wet because of water leaking into the boat from a hole on the floor. With nothing to plug the hole, he falls on his knees and asks God to help him.
The harder he prays for God to save him, the more the boat fills with water to the point it starts to sink. The more it sinks the harder and louder he prays. Finally the boat is totally filled with water and he is left to either drown or swim to shore. He musters all his strength and swims the 100 yards to shore, exhausted and terribly mad at God for not answering his prayer.
Were the man's prayers answered? He did not drown and there was no lasting damage done to his body or soul other than the humiliation of losing his boat. He should be rejoicing that he did not perish instead of mad at God for being wet.
Far too many times we yell to God for help in perilous situations, demanding He help us the way we want Him to. Obviously in this story the man wanted God to drop a plug down from heaven to stop the leak so he could keep on fishing. Otherwise, logic would dictate he row the boat to shore, drain the water out, find a plug and then go back out to fish some more. But, that would involve time and work. How much easier it is to simply wave the magic wand and demand God to do everything Himself immediately.
Unfortunately this is how many believers view prayer. They get into a difficult situation and instead of looking for God's solution, they pray and expect God to do everything for them. I am sorry to tell you this is not how it works. Very few of us had parents who did everything for us; God is our Father and He usually does not do that either.
Almighty God is not a vending machine. We do not take our quarters (representing prayers) and deposit them with Him and push a button for a new pair of shoes, rent money or a new boyfriend or girlfriend. God has cattle on a thousand hills and has no shortage of resources to supply our genuine needs; but He is not a vending machine ready to pop out treats any time we get hungry.
God is not a waiter at a fine restaurant. We do not sit around looking over menus and then snap our fingers for God to come running to take our order. It is not our place to demand His top filet mignon along with some of His finest wine. Just because He has all those cattle and just because He can turn water into wine doesn t mean we can demand He share them with us because it is Saturday night and we are all dressed up.
God is not our servant. We do not sit around in pampered luxury ringing our little bell for our God to come running to serve us. "I am tired today, so please God, will you plug the hole in the boat so I can keep fishing" is not the way God has this all set up to work. He is not our hired hand whose job it is to run all over the earth doing our dirty work or doing everything to make our life the epitome of earthly bliss and comfort.
Our God stands ready, willing and able to fight for His children. If the enemy tries to harm or hurt us and we call out to our Father for help; He will dispatch angels and do everything needed to defend us.
Our God is a God of comfort and love who is always there to bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. Our God is a God of peace who calms the storms in our hearts and bathes us with the balm of Gilead when we get wounded.
Our God is always there to provide for His children. Our God is our Heavenly Father who is gracious, merciful and tender with us. He is also a loving Father willing to chastise us when wrong and correct us so we don t hurt ourselves.
Our God is able to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. He will gladly provide manna in the wilderness and even quail. Whether He offers the fatted calf just because we would like it is not guaranteed, but He will meet His children's needs.
God expects us to use the brain He blessed us with. God gave us the ability to think and He wants us to do the best we can knowing that He stands ready and able to give us instructions or handle the situation Himself.
I once heard a variation of the original story presented here where after the man prayed, a giant oar dropped down into the boat. It was God s way of saying "You will be alright". In other words, God provided the means but left it up to the person to do the work. If a person needs $100 and prays for God to meet the need; God can either drop a hundred dollar bill down from heaven or send a message instructing how to earn it.
If we will stop treating God as our personal waiter/vending machine/servant and start approaching Him as our loving and all wise Father we will understand how He deals with our needs. If we will quit looking at prayer to God as a kid in a candy store and think of it more as going to your dad and asking for the keys to the family car; then we will begin to understand how He wants us to approach Him.
Last year I was faced with a fellow Christian who had become bitter against God. Finally through our conversation I discovered that he was bitter because he believed that God did not answer his prayer. I knew he had children so I asked him, "have you ever said no to a request from one of your children?" He replied, "Of course I have." I then asked him, "did your child get bitter because they felt you did not answer their request? Or did they get upset because the answer to their question was NO?" This then opened the door for the discussion that God is our Father and we His children, sometimes it may be that the answer to a prayer is no. He knows what is best, He sees the big picture, and just because His answer is No to a request does not mean He doesn't love us.
Just as my 5 year old 'thinks' he should be able to eat all the candy his body can stand and my answer of NO upsets him. He goes off on his own to pout for a bit. He doesn't understand that the request that he has made will in the long term be bad for his body. I think a lot of time it is the same for us, the request that we may make in prayer in the long term will be bad for us. Like you have pointed out God is not a short order cook that we can just make demands of, how about making our prayer time about being Thankful for He has given to us. We would be so much happier if we would only focus on that instead of what it is we perceive we haven't been given.
As always Brother I have enjoyed your blog. I pray that you are getting relief from your dental issues. I pray for your relief of the pain. I pray a hedge of protection around you and your household.
It is sometimes a fine line isn't it? That is, having a strong faith vs. believing in a good fairy type of god. Sometimes when He gets to work things do move fast and miraculously... but the key to understanding is just as you say B2Y -- on His time and on His terms.
Grace to you,
I think about this issue quite often, actually. I have experienced times when God has miraculously and instantaneously answered prayers. I have had prayers which have been answered slowly and gradually. There have been the times when God has answered, not in the way I expected but His way and there are times when He has simply told me no.
Does this mean He is unable to do these things or that He no longer loves me? Absolutely not! It means that I am His child and as such, He will do what is best for me and not just myself but what is best for those I come into contact with.
You are familiar with a story I told once about the agent for the Children's Aid Society of New York who took the five year old boy who was to become my grandfather to central Iowa. I said that I'd discovered this agent, a minister, prayed daily for all the children he had placed and their descendants. He wanted them to come to know God and serve him. To the best of our knowledge, my grandfather never came to Christ but his wife did as well as nearly all of his children. A number of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren have as well. In fact, in one generation, a family was transformed. Not only his own family but the siblings of his wife and all of their descendants. A number of them have gone into the ministry, become teachers of the Word of God, done mission work, etc. The man who prayed for my grandfather and his family did not live to see these things yet they came to pass.
When I think about the people I have met due to my having cancer, I see a bigger picture unfolding. Yes, God allowed me to go through it but He has also given me a glimpse of why. It was not for me alone although I have certainly learned a great deal from it. It was for others as well. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger doesn't it.
The question we must ask is "Not why didn't God answer my prayer." The question should be, "What can I do to bring God honor and glory where I am?"
This posted confirmed my exact sentiments when it comes to the graces that God bestows upon us. God always gives us what we need and sometimes what we want.
In every experience there are lessons to be learned and God wants to make sure we learn them. When we struggle to gain victory, we earn the knowledge necessary to more effectively tackle the issue again should we encounter it. We can also assist others who are enduring a similar circumstances.
There is no point in fighting or getting angry at God, because we need God more than God needs us.
Thank you for this insightful post.
Well, there goes all my bubbles.
We do tend to forget or misplace our knowledge as Christians sometimes that our God is the Almighty, Creator of all heaven and earth, no other is like him and no other is his equal.
A wonderful post and I say that as one who has had prayer answered at times and completely ignored at times, true, not even a no. I still pray and at times very specific prayers but always that he may be glorified in any answer to any prayers.
And I still pray for you two always,