Convicted during my teen years, tagged as an old man before my time, I rarely made it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. OK. Never. Sleep was more important. After 62 New Year’s Eves, it still is, the year 2000 excepted. Shame, shame, place a scarlet “A” on me if you will but I would wear it with pride. An old soul before my time, no one has convinced me entering a Fairyland called New Year’s would grant me magical powers or beanstalk riches. One minute followed the next. So, what. It’s just rote time—tick, tock.
Belief, unchallenged by thought, untested, can be the same, rote and unconvincing. For Christians, the trap is ever present. Too many times, unquestioned, we accept the tenants of faith failing by this acceptance to follow God to a deeper understanding, a more meaningful relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Satan loves the fertile ground of the lukewarm and dull Christian. Keep him from going further and the battle is won. Let him think all beliefs are equal, rote, unexamined, and all meaning and truth are lost. What’s the difference?
Prayer life, the unanswered prayer, is such a fertile ground. Jesus said, “Ask and ye shall receive—Only believe—If only you have the faith of a mustard seed….” Repeated years informed me all my prayers were not answered, are not now and would not be going forward. Asking did not always bring receiving or at least my conception of it. All I could do, until now, was conjure the unchallenged response—it is God’s will. An apparent incongruency appears by this answer when considering our Lord’s words, but let’s leave its discussion for another time.
But was it God’s will? Or was there more? If placing responsibility on God is not sufficient, what could be?
Sometimes we see and do not perceive. But we must keep looking. Receiving never comes when we quit asking.
Gethsemane offers insight. When Jesus prayed not my will, Lord, but thine, the answer to my question was there waiting for me. When I had contemplated enough, God’s time opened me to the truth faith is misplaced in the receiving as we envision it. A consumer mentality pervaded my spiritual life in a way God became the store and I the customer. The idea cut through me like the old man in my youth. It had always been there.
What of the unanswered prayer and cloaked perceptions? Seeking understanding is prayer of a higher kind. I realized unanswered prayers are God’s way of telling me not to place my faith in receiving but place it in Him. And I understood by opening myself to the answer God chose to give me, by trusting in Him, His answer would be better than anything I could have asked, better than anything I had dreamt past midnight.
Ask and you will receive. There are no unanswered prayers.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).