7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.Matthew 7:7-11 NLT
This passage from Jesus has caused a lot of wonder in the minds and hearts of Bible readers. I think this teaching of Jesus’s has caused anger in the hearts and minds of those who have begged God for things, but the prayers seemed to go unanswered. If this teaching has caused frustration and wonder in your heart and mind, I hope the following thoughts will provide some answers and explanations. I cannot promise that you will still not be frustrated.
I want to first add a disclaimer. Anytime you and I ask, “Why?” to God…we are more than likely going to be left hanging. I think on rare occasions God provides the answer as to why something happened…but not until the person affected looks back with 20/20 hindsight.
So, it seems in this teaching of Jesus’s, that He is encouraging us to be persistent in our asking. In a Hydrate Devotion to come later, I will be writing in regards to the parable Jesus taught about a Persistent Widow. If you do not want to wait for that devotion, then I encourage you to go ahead and turn to Luke 18:1-8 and compare it to this teaching of Jesus’s.
It seems that persistence pays off. However, if persistence pays off, then why do Children in Africa starve to death everyday? Why does the little girl being abused each evening by her foster parent not get what she is begging for? Why did my family members daughter die of Cancer at 15? I imagine you and I could record a thousand more “why” questions if we worked at it. But I already mentioned that we shouldn’t be asking God why He does some things and doesn’t do other things.
Check out a couple other Bible verses about this subject matter. Hopefully after reading them, you might have a few more answers as to why some things you ask for don’t happen. First let’s look at James 4:2-3. “You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Also:1 John 5:14
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
These passages provide some answers that help us understand why we sometimes do not receive what we ask for. Wrong motives are a key reason. The other is that we are asking for something that is not in God’s will for us. I hate that reason. But, it’s a biblical reason and thus I accept it.
On a side note, when it comes to this topic, do you have a friend in your life that you can discuss these issues with? A friend who you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your motives are pure. A friend you trust enough to tell you whether or not they think your asking is in accordance with God’s will. I have found that the only way I can have a friend in my life like that is to first be one. It’s always good to have a trusted friends opinion. If you are like me, then it’s easy to be blind to my own ambitions and will. Having a few trusted friends who are not afraid to share their opinion about you to you will always be beneficial in being self aware about your own motives.
There are no easy answers to this subject. My advice is to never stop asking what it is that you desire. There is no harm in asking. However, if you are desiring a 30 foot yacht to show up in your driveway or for the next 500 million dollar power ball winning ticket to be in your hands when they announce the numbers…you might do well to remember than nearly 20,000 children will die of starvation today around the world. It might help you to understand God’s will with more clarity when you recognize that today there will be about 154,000 deaths around the world. Now think about how many of those souls are going to Heaven or Hell. What, exactly is it, you are begging for God to give to you? With the stats I just shared, does your prayer still have a chance of being answered in the positive?
If you and I get up each day and pray a prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, it will include this line, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” If you are praying regularly that God’s will be done, you will find your heart and mind being okay with God answering your prayer with the answer of, “No.”
Are you still looking for answers as to why some things you ask for do not happen? Here are some more…do not forget that the Bible teaches that God is not a control freak. Even though God can do anything He wants, the greatest attribute of God is the fact that He is not a control freak. God’s greatest ability is in the fact that He restrains Himself. I imagine it would be really easy for God to simply force every soul into Heaven for eternity. However, would that really be love? Love doesn’t control or force. Love lays down guidelines and then honors choice. Another reason as to why some wonderful things that should happen, but don’t, is because our world has been cursed by ourselves when we sinned. This curse, beginning with Adam and Eve, has brought about death, disease, injustice and heart ache. Is this God’s fault? Of course not, God is love and He gives freedom of choice. In our freedom of choice there are consequences.
Still looking for other reasons as to why you don’t get what you ask for?
Have you considered there is an enemy of God’s who is trying to steal you from God? The devil is alive and strong and is doing everything in his power to disrupt and destroy your heart, soul, mind and strength. If the devil can win in this venture then he wins in attaining your soul for eternity. The best way for the devil to disrupt your life is to get you to blame God for things that God shouldn’t be blamed for. If the devil can get you angry and bitter towards God, then the rest of the devil’s mission is easy.
If you still aren’t satisfied, as to why God doesn’t just answer your prayer requests in the manner you desire, I would like to share one more. When Jesus taught this subject material in person, He was immersed physically in the world of the Hebrew culture. In this Jewish society, prayer life was typically focused on forgiveness, justice, repentance, soul searching, and self improvement in behavior. It is rare to read old prayers from centuries ago where the subject of the prayer was on material goods, riches or other self pleasing desires. Might it be, when Jesus teaches on this subject material of keep on asking that He wasn’t talking about physical and material goods at all? Might is be, that Jesus is suggesting that you can answer many of your own prayers? How? If your prayers are more like the kind of prayers that took place in Jesus’s time, then your prayer focus would be continually asking God to help you be more like Him. If this is the case, then if you continually prayed to be more kind to others, it will seem your continual focus on being kind will actually answer your prayer and you will find yourself practicing kindness. I like to say, you will become what you are becoming right now. If you spend the next week, continually asking God to give you more patience with one of your children…might it be that your continual focus on patience through prayer, will cause you to become more patient? Nowhere in this teaching of Jesus’s does He say, ask and God your Father will wave His magic wand and give you what you ask for. I think Jesus knows that you and I will become what we focus on. Prayer is focus! Many prayers we pray, if our motives are right and we are praying for things that really matter, then many of our prayers/focus can be answered simply because we are focusing on them.
Again, many of our prayers we pray are just not in the will of God. God isn’t interested in your comfort as much as He is interested in your character! But I sense that some of you are reading this and still not satisfied as to why your loved one passed away from a nasty disease when you begged God persistently to heal them. Well, I answer that by asking, was your loved one a believer? If you answered yes, then I believe that God did heal your loved one. Death for a believer is to leave this earth and join the Father in eternity. That is the ultimate form of healing. The prayer may have not been answered exactly like you wanted, but the person was healed and you will see them again, if you too are a follower of Jesus.
I’m sure there are other reasons I could come up with, but my time is up. I would love to hear from you in regards to other things you can think of as to why some of our prayers seems to not get answered.
I would like to close with this twist and challenge.
How many prayers are being prayed by desperate people right now that you can actually answer? Can you answer the prayers of a hungry person? Can you answer the prayers of the jobless person? Can you answer the prayers of someone praying for a friend to come into their life? etc. etc.
How different would your life be, if you lived it in such a way that your actions were many people’s answered prayers?