"When you ask, you do not
receive, because you ask with wrong motives..."
Awhile back I lamented that I was having a
hard time reconnecting with my parents' cats. You may be relieved to
learn that I did finally establish a tentative rapport with Fe.
Unfortunately, I had to resort to bribery--I began
bringing bits of food outside to feed her. They say the surest way to
a man's heart is through his stomach; this is certainly true of
animals as well.
problem with such tactics is that your relationship is now built on a
foundation of food: the cat comes to you because you give it food.
Fail to bring the food, though, and you'll find that
you just broke the basic tenet of the relationship--you didn't live
up to your end of the bargain. Fe's reaction to such times: "No food?
Very well, I'll see you next time. Be sure you don't
Well, that's no fun. And it defeats the
purpose of bringing the food out in the first place! I was looking to
build a genuine relationship. But if I'm just the guy
bringing out goodies--and that's all she sees me as--then that
relationship isn't there.
Is it possible that, sometimes, this is why
God chooses not to answer our prayers? I'm sure we know many of the
other reasons--the timing isn't right, what we're asking for isn't in
our best interest, God has a different plan for us, etc. But what if,
sometimes, God looks down and says, "I'm not the genie in the bottle,
folks! Don't take Me for granted. I'm looking for a genuine
relationship from you!"
The Apostle Paul certain knew that God did
not always answer prayers, and knew that God had good reason for it.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7 - 9, he writes:
To keep me from becoming conceited
because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given
me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three
times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said
to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power
is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more
gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on
In this passage we see at least two reasons
why Paul's prayer wasn't answered. The first is that the trial itself
had purpose: to keep Paul from becoming conceited. The second,
though, is that God wanted Paul to rely on Christ and
define grace as "unmerited favor": it is the receiving of that which
we did not deserve. Earlier, Paul had written in 1 Corinthians
15:10--"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His
grace to me was not without effect." Paul knew the power of grace; it
had changed him and shaped him. Grace is why Jesus came to earth to
reunite us with God; we hadn't done anything to merit or deserve it,
but God so desired a relationship with us that He did it
James 1:17 tells us, "Every good and perfect
gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly
lights," leading us to say that God is the giver of all good things.
But that's not all He's good for! Don't lose sight of
why God gives us these good gifts--of why He grants us
grace. He wishes to be in genuine relationship with us. And that
relationship is the best gift of all.
Stray Part 2
If you have anything of interest to add to
or you have general comments, questions, or ideas,
we welcome your response.
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