6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: God loves us and wants to give us good gifts, but He is restrained by our lack of obedience and service.



There were two widow women, each with only a single son. The two young men both got involved in drugs and they both ended up in prison. The women were devout Christians and both had been in constant prayer for many years. When their two boys were sent to prison the one woman continued her dedication to prayer but the other woman turned to morning and she eventually died.

Now both women were good Christians, but only one truly understood the role of prayer. The one woman was totally focused on seeing her son delivered from the curse of drugs and she would only believe God was hearing her prayers if she saw physical evidence. The other woman prayed for her son’s deliverance but more important she prayed for God’s will to be done in her life and thus her spirit was comforted.

The one woman had peace because she understood prayer and focused on the act of praying: not on what she wanted. She fully understood that God cannot make an individual change! After all, God cannot go against His own word; and He did give man the freedom to do as he wishes. Because of her spiritual maturity, the woman realized that her time of grief was also her time for drawing closer to God through prayer. The other woman, on the other hand, expected things to change in people and in the physical world just because she prayed for change. This woman could not see spiritual reality and thus she sank deeper into despair, until she finally died.


When we go to scripture and just look at a single verse, or we just look at a single situation, we can build an inaccurate or incomplete perspective on bible teaching. The prosperity gospel preacher do exactly that; especially when they tell a person that you can get whatever you ask for because God has promised to give you anything you request. Some of their favorite verses to back up their sales pitch are:

1. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23-24)

2. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

3. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John 14:13)

Verses such as these make it sound as if God is obligated to give us anything we pray for. The prosperity snake-oil salesmen make it sound as if God is like Wal-Mart. A one-stop-shop for everything you could possibly need and want. Well, I will admit that God has everything we could ever need or want, but the complete bible story does not make God out to be a Wal-Mart for prayer.


God’s promised to provide our needs and answer our prayers is kind of a form of covenant with mankind. As a form of covenant, there are two sides to the agreement: God will do His part only if we do our part. The prosperity preachers will shout and dance over what God has promised He will do, but they only gently whisper, if they say anything at all, about the conditions we must fulfill.

It is good to shout that God loves us as His children and He want to give us good gifts. But, let us also shout that God expects us to be worthy of His attention. If we look at the 7th chapter of Matthew, verses 7-11, the author makes it very clear that God wants to give us good gifts. We should, however, go on and read verses 12–14, which are preceded with the word “so.” Here the word “so” is a conditional conjunction between the “Ask and it Will be Given” clause and the “Golden Rule” clause. In other words, because God has promised to hear our prayers we are obligated to apply the Golden Rule. God does have all that we will ever need or want; and thus, He will bless those who walk with Him.

In fact, if we will continue to search out an understanding of God’s promise to answer our prayers we will find many conditions that must be met for us to be worthy of receiving what we ask for. For example, we must:

1. Believe – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

2. Have Faith – And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Matthew 21:18-22)

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