Around this time of year, many of us start thinking of things we’d like to do, be or have. We set goals, make resolutions. Those of a spiritual bent–and I happen to be one–pray.
What goes wrong? Why is it that, so often, nothing seems to happen? By March, if not the second week in January, we’ve given up on losing that weight, shedding that bad habit, landing that new job or starting that business we’ve always dreamed of having. Where is the short-circuit?
Personally, I think it’s often because we ask God for some wonderful thing–fully expecting Him to refuse. Prayer is powerful, and the enemy sees it, bright as a flare in the night. (Once, naively, I believed there was no enemy. Very handy for him. One only has to look around at the war, poverty, sickness and cruelty to the helpless ones know the sobering truth.) Since answered prayer is just about the worst thing for the enemy’s cause–talk about the kind of press he doesn’t want to get!–he immediately shows up and provides a lot of seemingly high-minded, even pious, reasons why you’re not going to get what you asked for. Some favorites: You don’t deserve it. He’s got bigger things to worry about. Suffering is good for the soul. It’s impossible–any fool knows that. You’re too old, too young, too smart, not smart enough.
Yada, yada, yada.
And we believe it! If you get nothing else out of this blog, get this: GOD SPECIALIZES IN THE IMPOSSIBLE. IT’S ONE OF HIS FAVORITE THINGS.
When you order something from a mail order house or online, do you fret and worry that the company might not deliver? Of course not. You fully expect that package to turn up on your doorstep, all in good time. And that’s the attitude I think we should take toward our prayers, for big things or small.
Am I comparing Almighty God to a mail order house? Perish the thought! But the Word is full of admonitions to believe. When He met a sick person, Jesus often asked, “Do you believe I will heal you?” It’s the belief that completes the circuit. You cannot receive unless you believe first. It’s universal law.
When you think about it, you always get what you believe you will. Ask to lose 20 pounds or quit smoking, or to recover from a terrible disease, believing you will surely fail, and guess what? You will. Not because God didn’t want to help, but because you didn’t complete the circuit. (Fortunately for us, there is Grace, or we would really reap the whirlwind of our careless thinking!)
God’s timing is different. He certainly reserves the right to substitute something–always better–for what you asked for. Sometimes, He’s faster than Fed-Ex. Other times, a process is quietly begun. But no prayer goes unheard.
Go ahead, just as an experiment. Ask for something. And instead of coming up with a list of reasons why it can’t happen, expect it in quiet confidence, the way you would expect Amazon.com to deliver a book or LL Bean to deliver a sweat suit. What do you have to lose? Not much.
But you have a whole lot to gain.