Not What I Wanted

Question from a Facebook friend:

When one asks God for something, and gets it, but it happens in a manner that is traumatic, is that God or Satan? The person does get what was requested, but in a way that the person did not want and is traumatizing.

It is impossible to say. First, the timing of the two events could be coincidental. It is very hard to establish causation when it comes to prayer. Every Christian has thanked God for answered prayer when circumstances have been favorable, but they may have been anyway.

Second, be careful what you ask for! The Israelites grew tired of the manna, and said, “Give us meat to eat” (Nu. 11:13). God gave them so much meat to eat that it came out of their nostrils and became loathsome to them (vs. 19f), because they had rejected the Lord. They should have been thankful that God had delivered them from Egypt. We should always come before God with thanksgiving, and with the right motives. James wrote, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (4:3).

Third, God will give us want we need, but not necessarily what we want, because we really don’t know what is good for us. People pray to win the lottery, but it is an overwhelming negative experience for those who do win. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ Or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt. 6:31,32).

Fourth, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give  good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matt. 7:7-11).

Dr. Neil

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