“God’s agape love is benevolent love that has your best interest in mind.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 12, 2022
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24
In the blog “Higher Things Daily Reflections,” published by Higher Things, a Lutheran youth organization, John Rosendahl writes, “Sadly, this notion of manipulating God through prayer is a very popular one today. Christians send out prayer-chain letters or e-mails, wrongly assuming that if enough folks are praying, they can move God to respond. They treat the Lord like a divine vending machine, depositing just the right amount of prayers to get their desired result.”
Don’t get me wrong. . .prayer can change anything, and the Bible says that we should pray with all kinds of prayers and requests (Ephesians 6:18), but God knows the difference between being used and bossed around and a humble petition. If you aren’t sure what your motive is, ask God to show you.
Remember this: any doctrine that promises a pain-free life if only we believe enough, do enough good works, or pray hard enough is setting us up for a nasty fall into a pit of believing that God is not good, that He doesn’t care, or that He is unloving. Jesus clearly states that “He . . . sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45) and “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33). To deny that trouble touches everyone is to deny the existence of sin.
In his book “What Bothers Me About Christianity” Ed Gungor writes,
When I was younger, I used to believe that if a person had enough faith in God, he or she could stop evil. I was a cocky, know-it-all “victory” preacher, and I had faith down to a science. If you prayed the right way, if you believed the right way, if you came to the right church (the one I pastored), you were sure to live a life untouched by evil. And if evil showed up, you just needed to pray harder and immerse yourself more deeply in Bible study. . . It didn’t take long for me to discover that faith and prayer didn’t always work the way I thought they were supposed to. Faith was not an exact science.
In his book “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” James Dobson writes that when life hurts and, like Gungor, we embrace a “life-should-always-be-free-from-pain” theology, someone has to take the blame—either us or God—and we typically “stumble toward one of several conclusions: (1) God is dead, irrelevant, bored, or uninvolved in the affairs of man; (2) God is angry at me for some sin I’ve committed; (3) God is whimsical, untrustworthy, unfair, or sinister; or (4) God ignored me because I didn’t pray enough or display enough faith.”
All these conclusions create a crisis of faith that makes us believe that God can’t be trusted and that He’s not loving. What a painful place to be!
During one life season when I felt the Lord had let me down, I was missing out on one of the most important aspects of relationship with God—He loves me with agape love.
Agape love is benevolent love that has the loved one’s best interest in mind. One amazing thing about agape is that it’s not motivated by what the one loved thinks she needs—that’s you and me—but by what God knows she needs—that’s God.
God loves us according to what He knows is right for us, so when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” God will say no if He knows it will be best for us and is in accordance with His agape love. What a kind and loving God we serve!
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24).
Lord, help me to trust you and believe that when I pray that you hear me, and that you will answer me according to your will. How faithful, kind, and loving you are! Amen.
Do you trust the Lord to say yes and no to your prayers when it’s best for you?
Chris Tomlin feat. Thomas Rhett: God Who Listens
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