Are we willing to accept “no?”
When it comes to prayer, do we have an attitude problem? Are we willing to accept nothing less than the best?” Do we expect nothing at all? Can we accept a delay, or something different? Can we accept that silence is a maybe? Can we accept that God knows what is best for us – we can’t see the future, but maybe he knows how we will fare with different options?
A popular song says something to the effect, you don’t always get what you want, but if you try you might get what you need. (If I actually quote it, I might have to pay for rights.) What we “need” is most important, not what we want.
I noted the song’s use of the word “try.” Do we expect an employer to knock on our door and invite us to a job? Or a doctor to come to our house and see if we have a disease and treat it? Or for a new house to appear out of nowhere? Or God himself to appear and rescue us? We’re partners with God. We have to try as well.
Are we willing to accept “no” for an answer? Are we willing to accept something different, or a variation? My wife and I laugh because she knows her own mind, knows what she wants, and suggesting a substitution hasn’t worked since her early childhood. She would rather do without than take an alternative. This doesn’t stop me from offering an alternative and getting snubbed. I’m a guy, I have to fix it.
A time for every season
Are we willing to accept there is a time for every season, so there will be a delay? Does God have to deliver every single order, on time, like a pizza delivery guy, or we won’t believe?
Things take time. Career growth doesn’t happen overnight. New responsibilities don’t come until we’ve proven our reliability and competence in lesser responsibilities. New businesses usually take years to develop and a lot of hard work. We have to keep seasons in mind.
As Roger E. Olson put it in his Patheos column, What Is Prayer, “When prayer doesn’t work, we rest in God’s sovereignty and trust that God knows best and has his reasons.” I have to count that as a win for me.
When we look for answers to prayer, we have to consider what kind of answer we’ll accept, and maybe modify our expectations.
Context: Things usually get better
We should consider our prayer requests in context. Most of the things we worry about, don’t happen. Many illnesses get better on their own, such as colds and flu. They don’t need prayer, they don’t even need a doctor unless it’s for symptomatic relief. * But as a precaution, we pray anyway.
* I tread lightly here. I’m not a physician or a mental health professional. Nothing I say should be taken as medical advice.
Take Home Points
We really have to ask ourselves if we have realistic expectations of prayer. We have every reason to believe that in normal times we will get our daily bread, clothes and shelter, those things we need, and get them especially if we try. All of us are worthy of medical care. And we believe God will help us with connections with others to be mutually beneficial.
Pray and keep communicating with God. It works.
Next in the series
Does God intervene in nature? Part 6 of Why Pray?
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world a better place.
- Luke 11:16-17, Matthew 7:28-29, Luke 11:16-17, John 3:35, Philippians 2: 9,10
- 2. Matthew 17:20, (NASB): “And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’”