Matthew 7:7-11 (NRSV) 7 “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? 10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
In the movie, Bruce Almighty, God gives Bruce the power to answer people’s prayers. Going through the long list of requests, Bruce gets tired and clicks the “answer all” button. The next day several million people discover that their prayer of winning the lottery came true, and all of them received a share of the pot - amounting to just a few dollars a person.
God doesn’t give us everything we ask for. And that is a good thing because often what we ask for is not best for us. We may see the silliness in praying to win the lottery, but there are also times when more serious prayers do not seem to get answered.
So how do we square that away with the scripture above? Jesus said to ask, right?
Yes ... Ask.
The rationale for asking, according to Jesus, is because our Father in heaven is a good and loving God. And if we believe he is good and loving, then we are more likely to ask. But if we believe that God is holding out on us, then we won’t bother to ask Him. Thus, what we believe about God will show up in our prayer life.
Now about those seemingly unanswered prayer …
Jesus knew his Father loved him. Jesus knew His father wanted to give him good things. And Jesus was not afraid to ask. Asking was second nature to Jesus, as was praising, thanking, and lifting others up.
One of Jesus’s final prayer requests was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked three times that the Father would take away his impending death. And yet, God did not grant this request. Yet, after the third request, there was a resolve to Jesus. He arose, faced his enemies, and accepted God’s will for his life.
Sometimes God changes our circumstances.
Sometimes, God changes us in the midst of our circumstances.
Either way, when we believe that God is a good and loving Father, prayer will naturally follow, and we will see that we are truly blessed.
Grace and peace,