What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


One of the most consistent conversations that I have with students in their walk with God is about prayer. Particularly, the question of trusting God when he doesn't answer or move in such a way that it seems plain a good God would want to move (i.e. the healing of a sick parent or deliverance from a sin pattern).

This is a pretty complicated question, but here are a couple preliminary thoughts:
  1. We always want prayer to work like a vending machine. But it doesn’t. We don’t always get what we want, and that’s a good thing. The purpose of prayer is to cultivate a relationship with God. In the midst of that, we submit requests. And I mean that seriously: we “submit” our requests—we submit our desires to God and trust that He’s good. In his goodness he says one of three things: yes, no, or wait. To get the last two answers often makes us mad, but that’s what the walk of faith is at least partly about: will I trust God to be good to me, even when I don’t get what I want when I want it?
  2. Some of the hardest questions about prayer revolve around stuff that it seems obvious that God would want to say yes to: a sick parent, breaking free of something in our own lives that’s keeping us down, etc. But if God’s saying no or wait on those things, the challenge and the opportunity is to consider and ask what he might want to do with this in the mean time. I had a hard break-up sophomore year of college. I wanted to be free of my feelings for her right away, but God didn’t grant me that request. Instead, I learned how to develop guy friendships that walked me through that hard time in my life. So instead of God magically waving a wand to heal me, he taught me another valuable lesson—about community and really experiencing it in places where I felt vulnerable—and that lesson has stuck with me for the rest of my life. This is a small issue compared to what many others go through, but the principle applies to many, much harder situations. Sometimes God says no to something in order to say yes to something much greater that we cannot yet see.
Fortunately throughout the Scriptures we've got plenty of folks who wrestled with unanswered prayers--David in the Psalms and most poignantly, Jesus in the Garden. He submits his final request and it is denied. In the end he goes the way of the cross, fully submitted to the will of the Father.

My own prayer is that I might be able to likewise be fully submitted to the will of the Father.

1 comment:

Kat said...

How beautiful indeed is the prayer journey! "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." ~Isaiah 65:24. God is doing a good work in each of us, surprising us with eternal blessings. Great encouragement! Thanks Alex!