When we pray, we do so in faith that God is always going to give us what we need. We get that. We understand that. But what do we do with the words of our Lord in John 14:13-14?
“I will do whatever you ask in my name…You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
But God doesn’t give me whatever I ask. He’s said “no” to many of my prayers. His words don’t mean the same thing to us that they meant to the apostles.
What if — play along with me here — everytime you asked for something in prayer, God gave you a gift. He blessed you. What if — are you still with me? — sometimes he gives you something different than what you asked, but that something is so much bigger and better? What if God makes substitutions, but those “audibles” are always to your advantage?
He created me. He knows me. He knows every single thing about me. He certainly knows what’s best for me.
“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” ~Matthew 7:11
God may not always give you exactly what you ask for. But your faith assures you that God is giving — he’s always giving. And if it’s different, you can trust that it’s better for you than what you think you want. His divine sovereignty will prove out because he knows. He knows much better than you what will best meet your needs and fit into his heavenly plans.
If my kids beg me for Little Debbies and Dr Pepper floats for every meal, three times a day, but I answer those requests by giving them salads and steaks and vegetables and rice and milk and water, does that show that I love them less? Or does it prove I love them more? Giving them what they want all the time would actually be much easier. But wouldn’t it prove that I don’t really have their long term interests at heart?
Jesus says, if you (insert your name), in all your shortcomings and sins and failures; if you (insert your name), in all your inadequacies, in all your evil; if you (insert your name) know how to give good gifts to your children…
How much more!
Yes, I’ve got prayer on the mind. It’s 6:30 Friday evening and there are seven men in two different rooms upstairs in The Rock here at Legacy, praying for over 130 prayer requests from our church family and the community. We started praying in one-hour shifts up there at 8:00 this morning. And nearly a hundred men are coming and going throughout the night through 8:00 tomorrow morning in our big annual prayer event, Legacy’s 24 Hours of Prayer.
I can’t adequately describe what it’s like to pray for your brothers and sisters, to lift up their deepest fears and concerns and their richest praise and thanksgivings, with four or five other brothers, for over an hour. I learn so much. I didn’t really know Michael until I listened with him this morning as he prayed for Mary and Gene and Betty. Now I know his heart. I had no idea the pain that Stuart and Hope have endured. But after reading their prayer requests form, now I know. I thought I knew Larry until I prayed with him for his children and mine. I thought I knew Steven until I heard him pour his heart out to God about his own sins and failures.
As Oswald Chambers said nearly a hundred years ago, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works; prayer IS the greater work.”
I love the 24 Hours of Prayer. My last time slot comes up at midnight. I’ll be praying with Tracy and David and Paul D. and Paul B. I feel like I know two of them pretty well right now. I know a little about the other guy. One guy I hardly know at all.
Right now, I consider all four of them friends.
At 1:00 am, I’m guaranteed to know more about them, and them about me, and to be closer to them and bonded to them than we would be after a year of going hunting or fishing or watching football games together.
At 1:00 we will be brothers.
It’s been a long time since I’ve visited your website, what with school starting and all. But your work is as refreshing as ever. However, there’s one problem with what I just read today, “According to God’s Will.” Well, not so much a problem as a frustration. Can you please think of an example rather than giving good gifts to my children? Because, being in middle school, I’m too young to understand that. Other than that, the sermon was great. May God continue to bless and use you!