Teach Us To Pray 3 - With Trust In God
Chan Gin Kai
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9-10)
I first read this passage when I was about 10 or 11, and I was really pumped up when I read it. I thought, “Wow! God is better than a genie. I don’t even need to rub the lamp and I'm not limited to three wishes. I need only ask.”
Jesus said, “For everyone who asks receives”. Is it really that good and that easy? There appears to be no caveats. No “buts” and no “ifs”, a promise that appeared to be without conditions.
Then why do we have so many unanswered prayers?
We have of course enjoyed many answered prayers. But when things go wrong and God doesn’t seem to hear our requests, doubts naturally creep in. We remember the assurance that Jesus gave us above, but see its dichotomy with reality. We wonder what’s the reason Jesus has not fulfilled his promise.
We sometimes start to doubt ourselves. Is there something wrong with my faith? Maybe I have not believed hard enough? Or perhaps God’s not listening because I’m sinful and unworthy? Would God listen to me if I cry harder, fast a few days and do more “good” things?
And we sometimes blame God instead. Maybe He is not as loving as He claimed. Perhaps He’s got something against me and wants to punish me. Maybe He doesn’t really care that His people are suffering. So why should I pray to Him?
The answer becomes clearer when we read further.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
Jesus said that no father would give his child a snake if he asks for a fish, or a scorpion if he asks for an egg. We read this together with the above assurance before it, and feel excited. “That means if we ask for good things, our Father will not give us bad things, right”?
Yes, that’s right, our loving Father wants to give us what’s good for us. The problem is we sometimes ask Him for things that are bad for us.
Looking back at many of my unanswered prayers over the years, I am glad that God did not answer them. With greater maturity now, and a clearer perspective after the emotions of those moments are over, I see the reason why God chose not to answer those prayers.
I had prayed for things that I desired at that point, and that I thought were good for me. But God in His wisdom knows better. He chose to disappoint me, and would even rather have me blame Him, than answer a request that is bad for me. I look back at those prayers and realise how God had protected me from myself. And I feel ashamed that I had doubted Him and blamed Him.
There are times when what we pray for is indeed good. But God has something even better in store. The process to these greater blessings may be tough and even painful to us. Again, we wonder why God did not answer our prayers. We question why God allows us to get hurt. We may even get into a crisis in our faith. In fact, some of us may even be going through that right now.
Let us be encouraged, for God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). He is infinitely wiser and knows the best way to bless us. We may look at our problems and the hurts we feel, and doubt if God hears our prayers. But be assured that He hears you and He sees your pain. He is planning something far better for you.
Our Father wants the best for us. He may choose to grant us our requests, to our gratitude and praises. Or He may choose to reject our supplications, to our disappointment and doubts. In all of His decisions, He’s got out best interests at heart.
Let us be patient and trust God as we pray. And ask that God opens up our eyes so we will understand His plans.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.