By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“God answers prayers, but he doesn’t always answer it your way” – Lou Holtz
“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).
So many of us have probably read this verse. We understand that what Jesus is saying here is that prayer works. If we come to God with our humble prayer, He is sure to answer it. But I think that the next verse is just as important as this one.
“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).
You see, what Jesus is saying here is that any good father would know what is best for his son. If his son asked for something, the father wouldn’t give his son anything that may harm him.
This stands true for our God! It is true that our God answers our prayers. No prayer that is prayed goes unnoticed or unanswered. However, God may not answer a prayer how we intended.
Sometimes, without realizing it, we ask God for things that aren’t the best for us. Sometimes we ask God for scorpions. But our God is a good Father. Even though we may pray for scorpions, He never gives them to us. He knows what is best. God still answers the prayer, but usually in a way that we had never thought or imagined.
Maybe, we should pray more as James prompts us:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (James 4:13-17).
I don’t think that James in this passage is simply getting aggravated with people who aren’t including him in their weekend plans. I think that James wanted his readers to stop running after snakes and instead seek God’s will first in all things.
Rather than pray for snakes or scorpions, what if we prayed for God’s will to be done. Rather than, God help me get into this school, we should pray, God reveal to me which school you’d like me to go to. Rather than, God help me get this job, maybe we should pray Lord, place me where you can use me best.