“I know what I need. My motives are pure. Certainly this prayer request is something God would want to answer.” How often do these thoughts run through our minds? And when He doesn’t give us what we asked for, we’re perplexed and even a bit agitated. How do we deal with unanswered prayer?
Jesus addresses this quite vividly in Matthew 7. Jesus invites us to come to Him with our requests, but then says this:
"Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:9-11).
Unanswered prayer is the result of us asking for stones and serpents and God giving us bread and fish instead. Which is why getting upset over unanswered prayer makes no sense whatsoever. So often we’re asking God for something that will devastate us when He wants to give us something that will nourish us. In our prayer lives, God refuses to let us settle. We need to have the humility to remember God chooses better for us than we could ever choose for ourselves.
High school was challenging for me. I attended a large public high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a graduating class of 460 students. Socially it was a nightmare. I had come from a very small, private middle school and as a result was clueless to what was and was not “cool.” Early in my freshman year, I discovered my denim backpack was so not cool. The pressure to fit in was suffocating.
Does the pressure to fit in ever go away? When adults think back to their high school years, most may agree the pressure to fit in was high compared to what it is now; but I’m not so sure about that. Might it be, even in our 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, we still feel pressure to fit in, but we are more skilled at disguising it? Might it be, that what we called “fitting in” in high school is what we call “relevant” as adults?
Being “cool” or “fitting in” in high school is just another way of saying we gained the approval of a certain circle of students. I’m becoming more and more convinced our pursuit of being “relevant” is the same thing. In church contexts, "relevant" can be our desire to communicate biblical truth to the culture in ways they understand. But increasingly, being "relevant" is expanding beyond the borders of cultural intelligibility. Our desire to be “relevant” is really a sign we’re increasingly becoming approval junkies.
We Christians know there is some stuff we believe that is going to be perceived as uncool. We believe marriage is one man, one woman, for life. We believe sex should be thoroughly enjoyed only within the context of a marriage. We believe a man was tortured and killed, but came back to life and will one day return riding on the clouds. Christians believe some strange stuff. We’re aware of that, so we try to compensate by demonstrating to the culture around us we aren’t loony. We do this by staying on top of the latest trends in technology, fashion, and social media all as a way to say, “Hey everybody, even though I’m a Christian, I’m still cool!"
I’ve got news for you, Christian, even though you own the newest iPhone, wear the latest Banana Republic styles, and are the first to use the hot, new social media app, you’re still going to be weird. Get over it! Don’t be ashamed of it. In God’s eyes, weird is the new cool.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
This week I will be giving away two copies of the book, The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer. To enter, simply sign in to the Rafflecopter giveaway below and enter either by following me on Twitter, on Instagram, or on both! Winners will be chosen and notified by email. At this time, I do ask that only those living within the 48 contiguous United States enter the giveaway. Thank you for understanding.
10. "Hey, girl, I've got the gift of prophecy and I see you in my future."
9. "You must be made out of water, because Jesus turned you into FINE!"
8. "I have been struggling with loneliness. Would you mind meeting me to pray about it?"
7. "Your middle name must be 'Grace' because, baby, you're amazing!"
6. "I was reading the book of Joshua and I wondered how many times I would have to walk around you to make you fall for me."
5. "Say, girl, is your name 'Faith'? Because you're evidence of things I've hoped for."
4. "I know you've accepted Jesus into your heart, but is there still room in there for me?"
3. "Is it hot in here or is that just the Holy Spirit burnin' inside you?"
2. "Hi, I'm 'Will'. God's Will for you!"
1. Hey, I was looking in the book of Numbers and saw that I didn't have yours."
Source: Relevant Magazine