We all have stories about God not answering our prayer. We asked for help on the test. We failed. We asked for healing for the child. She died. We asked “why?” We didn’t hear anything.
Given our experience, many of us read these words that Jesus said and we cringe:
“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; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. [Matthew 7:7-8]
And so we learn to use qualifiers. Or we don’t pray at all.
But what if Jesus actually was telling the truth? What if “everyone” really means “every one?” What if every time we ask we receive an answer but we aren’t listening?
A 2-year-old is riding in a stroller through a store asking for that. And that. And that. If the parent keeps moving past all of the items, we may get upset.
Except the store isn’t Toys ‘R’ Us, it is Lowe’s. And the aisle isn’t toys, it’s pesticides. And the quiet parent already told the child that they were fixing the sandbox.
With focus, the parent gets to the bags of sand. Which are not at all exciting to a 2-year-old.
The journey through the rest of the story is loud and the ride home is sleepy, after the tears subside.
After a nap, during which the sand goes in the box, the child is taken outside and placed in the sand, where the parent also sits.
The requests of a 2-year-old for what would kill are often refused.
The requests of a 2-year-old for what gives life are often granted.
But two-year-olds can’t read the labels, don’t know the plans.
They must trust.
This was first published March 16, 2009. I still wrestle.