Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be Careful What You Ask For (You Just Might Get It)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7: 7

In my experience, most teens (and even some adults) have a hard time knowing the difference between what they WANT and what they NEED. I think the threshold between spiritual immaturity and spiritual maturity is crossed once we begin to know this difference and act accordingly. Why is this important?

First of all, I think it impacts in a huge way the kind of prayers we pray. I think we spend a lot of time asking God for want we want rather than what we need. And I think we don’t spend enough time listening to Him tell US what it is we need. You see, God can see the big picture. He sees and knows the entire plan—and all we can see is the next step to take. So, what if the thing we are asking for is not what we need the most. What if instead of helping us to be free and happy, it brings us stress and suffering. Would God allow this?

I think sometimes (perhaps many times) He says “no” to these requests. Perhaps this is why so many people feel that God does not hear or answer their prayers—because they were only looking and listening for a “yes”. They don’t even consider the possibility that God can say “no” or even “not yet”. So in one sense it is a risk for God to say no to these prayers, because we might end up rejecting Him or thinking He doesn’t care or is too busy for us even though none of that is true.

But what happens when He says “yes” even though it might not be the thing we really need. Does this happen? Just ask the Israelites of the Old Testament. They clamored for a king. They thought what they needed more than anything was to be a kingdom—to be credible and legitimate as a nation and as a people. They were not satisfied with having God alone as their king. So God granted them their request and it didn’t always turn out so good for them, did it? Some of the kings were good, but many were not. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So be careful what you ask for. Rather than spend so much time in prayer begging God for that new cell phone, or for that girl or guy to notice you, or to get into that college you really want to attend, why not ask Him to simply give you whatever you need most and then be satisfied. This approach to prayer requires patience and lots of trust, but it is so much more freeing than to constantly be looking at what we want. Perhaps if God were to say “yes” to all of your prayers, you’d be miserable and eventually turn from Him. May we always strive to know the difference between what we WANT and what we NEED, then ask God based on that knowledge and be satisfied whatever His answer might be.

Dear Jesus, help me to know the difference between what I want and what I need. Give me the grace to trust You and Your plan for my life. Help me to be patient when waiting for Your answers to my prayers. Amen.

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