Why are we surprised when God answers prayers?
Maybe you are not, but I always seem to be surprised, taken off guard, when God performs the miraculous.
Is that because I don’t have enough faith or enough trust to truly believe that God can answer prayer?
On a very small, small scale yesterday, I was completely shocked, once again, by what has been God’s provision for my family and I. You would think that by now I would be used to it; expect it even. But that’s not the case. Not even close.
Yesterday morning, my prayer time was nearly consumed with worry that the medication I was to pick up from the pharmacy was going to cost over $200. The last time, when I first received insurance, that is what I had to pay and it completely threw our budget off for the month. There just isn’t room for surprises like that. But there is room for surprises like the one I had when I, in fear, drove to the pharmacy yesterday.
The pharmacist knew I was concerned about the cost, because he had tried to help me find a savings card or discount for the medication, to no avail. But yesterday when I walked up to the counter, he told me “You’re not going to believe this, but your insurance is now only charging $30 a month for this medication!”
I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been. It was God’s provision.
On a larger and much more important scale, today is “Gotcha Day” for sweet Joshua Caden Spence. Our Minister of music and his wife, after much prayer and longing, will be receiving their precious gift of God, and Joshua will be receiving his forever family. Oh, how they have prayed for this day. Oh, how we as a church have prayed for them! I can’t even imagine the excitement, or the surreal feeling that this long-prayed for day has arrived.
God answers prayers.
Why do I doubt that He will answer? Why do I grumble when the answer is “No”? Why do I worry and fret when it seems that He is not hearing my prayer?
I long in my heart to marry again someday–to have that special someone to grow old with. I’ve watched other divorcees and widows and widowers as they have moved forward and God has brought someone amazing into their lives. But that has not been God’s answer for me yet. Yet. And recently I settled in my mind that it may not be His answer for me until after the children have all graduated. And after much prayer, I am settled with that, if that is to be the case. But really, what does it matter whether I am settled or not? My God is sovereign over all things. Even my future.
There are other things that I–and you–have prayed fervently and earnestly for, and God has said “No” or “Not yet”. And we, at least I, in my rebellious soul kick and fight against those things. I realized this morning just how sinful it is to try to tell God how to do His job!! What pride and arrogance!!
But is prayer only a litany of what we want God to give us or do for us? No, for if it were that, than Christianity would not be a relationship with the God of the universe. No, prayer encompasses so much more. Praise and adoration. True gratitude. Painful but cleansing confession. Honest communication with God over the state of our souls.
We see all this and more in the Psalms—where we are invited to quietly look over the shoulder of the Psalm writer and read their impassioned communication with God. O, that we would be as earnest and pray as fervently as they did! I fall way short in my selfish endeavors to communicate with my God. But I also know that He honors my pathetic attempts as a Father adores a child’s first hand drawn picture of him to take to his office with him. Yes, God is my father, and He accepts my bumbling attempts to communicate with Him, with joy!
In Sunday School we are currently reading Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? This is my second time through this book. It is fascinating to read what I underlined then, before I was a believer, and the things that resonate with me now. Some are the same; some are vastly different. If you are struggling with prayer, I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this book. No, it’s not scripture–the first place we should look for answers as to “What is prayer?” But it is an incredibly helpful and insightful resource, especially for those–like me–who tend to get cynical at the drop of a hat.
I’m going to end this rambling with the Psalm that first opened my eyes to prayer. It’s not one of the joyful Psalms, instead it is a Psalm full of anguish. But sometimes that’s where we need to start. It’s where I needed to start this morning as I took to God some deep hurts. But out of that anguish comes joy in knowing that God is a God who sees and knows. He is ever faithful, ever constant, ever sovereign.