THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, we must have heard countless times that God answers our prayers in unexpected ways, or that God only helps those who help themselves. But if we think about it, how then do we explain prayers that have been answered with scientifically improbable specificity, or miracles that happen without our help? Is God being inconsistent or biased?
Psalm 37:4 says: “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we take delight in the Lord, we stick close to Him, we yearn for more of Him, and align ourselves to Him, because it brings us joy, which comes from the knowledge that God has our best interest at heart as well. God declares His care for us in Jeremiah 29:11 – “ ‘For I know my plans for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
I have had my share of “unanswered prayers” as well. Not getting the results that I prayed for, not getting the postings that I wanted in National Service, being rejected for my university applications – the list goes on. I have always wondered why God would choose to give others what they asked for, but not me.
One day, I decided to dig deep into the heart of what I was asking God for. I asked myself: “Why pray for good results?” The answer was: “To glorify God of course.” Then came the dreaded questions: “Are the good results necessary? Are they for God or for my own pride? What if God wants to show His glory in another way? Did God show His glory in another way?”
Many of us, including myself, are guilty of this. We make requests to God, try to make it seem like a win-win situation, and then forget the reason we gave for our request once we are done asking. We short-change ourselves by focusing on the superficial instead of the heart of the matter.
We pray for opportunities to glorify God, we pray for opportunities to do His work, we pray for others to come to know God. But while we are still taking delight in ourselves, we miss out on the greater joy. The second verse from Starfield’s song, “All For You”, goes like this:
What is it in me that hangs on for so long?
Why do I fight the tears that come? I work so hard to keep in control when All that I want is to let go.
God has already promised us that He will take care of us. The situations that we are in may lead us to think otherwise, but it is important for us to remember the heart behind our prayers and see that God is still at work. God honours those who honour Him, and He will give us what we pray for if it is good for us.
The challenge for us here is to align ourselves to God and know the heart of God. Only then can we learn to trust God fully and give up control of our lives to Him.