Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – February 2, 2016
He [God] . . . sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matthew 5:45
I once spoke at a conference where a woman approached me and told me that her husband was experiencing an extended season of unemployment. This had been very hard on their family both financially and emotionally. “We have prayed and prayed, and still nothing. We have claimed a new job over and over in Jesus’ name but my husband still can’t find a job.” My heart went out to her. No doubt this would be tough. But as we spoke, I was reminded that we can’t manipulate God through prayer because prayer is not about a formula.
Naming something and claiming something doesn’t guarantee a favorable answer because prayer is not like a candy machine where I deposit the right kind of prayers and God gives me the answer I am looking for. Prayer is about a relationship. 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. Also 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 God can’t be trusted. Jesus clearly reveals that to deny that trouble touches everyone is to deny the existence of sin when he says in John 16:33. . .
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!”
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!
Are you struggling with trusting God because He hasn’t answered your prayer the way you desire? Rather than believing that He isn’t good or that He doesn’t love you, choose to trust Him instead. You’ll be glad you did.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines. . . yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. . .” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).
~Excerpted in part from Betrayed by God? Making Sense of Your Expectations by Shana Schutte. Copyright, 2010. Download a free chapter.
Prayer: Lord, I choose to trust you today even though you haven’t said yes to my prayer. Forgive me for my unbelief. Amen.
Application: Write a letter to Christ and give Him your concerns about your denied desires.
Related Readings: Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 7:10-11; Isaiah 55:8-9
Post/Tweet this today: When God doesn’t answer your prayer, you have a choice to make. #WisdomHunters #SayYestoTrust
Worship Resource: 8 minute video – Natalie Grant: Breathe On Me
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© 2016 by Boyd Bailey. All rights reserved.
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