Summary: If God answers all prayers, then why do we sometimes not get what we ask for?
By: Rev. Kenneth Emerson Sauer, Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
I’ve heard a lot about answered prayer over the past week and a half.
Many have said, “I thank God that the hurricane was not as bad as it could have been.”
“We prayed that our home would be spared and it was.”
“Even though we lost power, God has answered the prayer I have been praying for for years, that my family would come together again…and spend time together again.”
…but at the same time…
Ever since I entered the ministry, I have heard many people say, “I don’t think God answers my prayers.”…or “I prayed for this and it didn’t happen…therefore I am mad at God.”
Have any of you ever made a wish over a wishbone or a birthday cake with candles?
I can remember, as a little kid--long before I was able to even think of driving, wishing that a red Corvette would magically appear out in our driveway.
I dashed to the window, and…well…there was no Corvette…just my dad’s old Plymouth Valiant, and my mom’s station wagon with the fake wood paneling.
Well, I soon learned that wishing for something while you are holding the biggest piece of a wishbone does not work…
…neither does throwing pennies in a wishing well and making a wish…
…nor does wishing for something before blowing out all the candles on a birthday cake…even if you do keep your wish a secret.
There is no such thing as a wishing well, and yet many of us are guilty of expecting God to act as one.
Suppose, I, at five or six years old were to pray to God that a red Corvette would suddenly appear in my parent’s driveway…and it did!?
Would God really be looking out for my best interests?
Why should I get a red Corvette for nothing while my neighbors do not?
How spoiled would I become if all I had to do when I saw something I liked and wanted was to pray and it would suddenly appear?
I wouldn’t have to work for anything.
I wouldn’t be grateful because I would come to expect anything and everything I wanted whenever I wanted it.
Would it make me happier?
Would it make my life more fulfilling if God were to give to me everything that my flesh desires?
Well, at the very least, the answer is “No!” simply because much of what my flesh desires is not good for me…does not lead to my salvation, the salvation of others and the overall good of humankind.
Let’s take a look at James chapter 4:1-3.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
When we have prayed for something and we have not received it…were we asking for something with the wrong motives? Did we ask for something simply to gratify our lusts?
Let’s look at Psalm 66:16-20.
The Psalmist tells us that if he or she had cherished or clung to sin in his or her heart the Lord would not have listened and heard the Psalmist’s voice in prayer.
We’re starting to see a pattern here are we not?
Sin obstructs prayer.
Our own selfish desires obstruct prayer.
Our God is the God of Love Who loves Sacrificially.