Of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer may be both the easiest and the hardest, the simplest and the most complicated. We read verses in scripture that tell us all we need to do is ask, and it will be given to us.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matt. 7: 7,8
What could be simpler? Yet who among us hasn’t known the disappointment and confusion of unanswered prayer?
As any parent can attest, there will be times when the answer to a dearly loved child’s request must be no. At other times it might be wait. In either case, no child wants to be denied the very thing he wants most, and no mom or dad wants to be the one to disappoint. However, love compels them to do what we know is best.
So it is with the Lord. He sees beyond our present circumstances and will do what is best for us. He can even take our most painful experiences and use them for our good. Even as we cry out to Him to change things, He continues to work according to His wisdom and great love.
Many years ago a neighbor’s dog attacked my four year old son. He grabbed his head and bit the side of his face leaving frightening wounds that would require stitches.
My terrified neighbor drove us to the Emergency Room. I carried my son in and followed a nurse to one of the cubicles. He clung to me as I laid him on one of the beds and tried to comfort him as the nurse cleaned his bloody little face.
A kind doctor came in and confirmed that he would need stitches. Then he looked at me and told me to hold my son down while he gave him injections in the wounds to deaden the pain. I looked at him in disbelief (Couldn’t the nurse do that?)but did as he instructed. I held my poor screaming child, who looked at me as though I had deeply betrayed him, while the doctor did the necessary work.
I don’t think, in that moment, anything would have convinced that little boy that all of this was for his good. He only wanted the pain to stop, and he wanted me to somehow stop it - to find an easier way.
In his sermon this past Sunday Pastor Doug said, “God always wants what is best for us. We think we know what’s best, but what is good for us is not always what we’re asking for.”
Prayer is not meant as a means to get us everything our hearts desire. Prayer is meant to draw us closer to God. As our relationship to Him deepens, as we get to know Him more and more, and the desires of our hearts will begin to align with His desires for us.
Whether His answer is yes, no or wait - we can trust Him because we know Him. He hasn’t promised to explain everything to us. His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. But He has promised He will never leave us and will always work things together for our good.