Sometimes it seems like we ask God for a fish and we get a snake. Or we ask for an egg and we get a scorpion. If God doesn’t give what we ask for, is it even worth even praying? Turns out God’s answers to our prayers are based on his best for our big pictures…
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
God answers prayer (in part) based on his love for his children and our tenacity in bringing our requests before him. These stories of the friend looking for bread and the father answering his son teach us about God’s response to us. The risk, of course, with these passages of Scripture, is that people will take them out of context or in isolation.
Remember that these stories are told on the heels of the Lord’s prayer teaching. When we come to God relentlessly with our requests, we must also come understanding God’s holiness, the importance and weight of his will in answering prayer, and our relationship with God, others, and the devil.
Let’s just dwell on the relationships. The Lord’s prayer reveals a request for God to show us grace (relationship with God), as we show grace to others (relationship with others), and lead us not into temptation (relationship with the devil). Assume that God’s answers in his love and in response to our tenacity will also provide for the best for us in those three relationships. And so when we our father ask relentlessly for a fish, we won’t get a snake, yet we might not get a fish either.
So what’s the point?
The point is to be consistent and relentless in your prayer – do not give up. And come to the God who loves you because he loves you. Don’t hold back because you aren’t sure that he cares. God loves you and he is listening. Just don’t judge his responses without thinking about your own big picture.
That big picture and your godly future is front and centre for the Lord…