If you are like me, you might be feeling unsure about how to plan for the future because everything around us is changing. Not only is life-changing, but it’s also changing fast. Like the economy is up and then it’s down. One day your health is good and then the next moment you get called into a doctor's office. Maybe your relationship with someone is strong and then it’s rocky and this causes you emotional pain. How do we navigate such trending waters when we never know what plate we will be handed each day?
This might sound very juvenile and simple but Jesus gives us the answer, he says we simply must pray. Praying???? That’s it? Yes, we just need to pray. If we want to remain stable during unstable times, we simply must pray. But maybe you are thinking, “I am praying, but nothing is happening”. That’s a loaded statement and if Jesus were here today, he would tell us otherwise that you might feel your prayers are not working but they are and they matter to him.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 7 which gives us some key insights into what is going on when we pray.
Key number one: Are you praying the right way? Matthew 7 tells us how to pray. It says to ask, seek, and knock. These three verbs mean three different things. Ask means to be humble before God. Seek means to ask God’s will in the situation, like when you have three job offers and you ask God which one you should take. Finally, it says knock which means to be persistent. When we pray, some prayers need to be repeated over and over again because there is a battle and fight going on in the spiritual realm. We are facing resistance. Like when someone you love is not saved, or someone is battling a sickness or your marriage is not going well. Some prayers need more than one cry out to God. So have you been praying that right way by asking, seeking, and knocking?
The second key: God answers our prayers. Jesus says when we pray God is going to give you an answer. It says ask and it will be given, seek and you will find and knock and the door will open. For each verb, there is an answer. Wow! There is a promise that God is going to answer. Now how does God answer our prayers? It is either yes, yes but later, or no. When Jesus thanked God and prayed over the 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread it multiplied- God said yes to him. When Hannah asked God for a child it didn’t come right away but eventually, she did have Samuel- this was a yes but later prayer. When Jesus asked God to take his cup of suffering away in the garden of Gethsemane- the answer was no. We too will have to face these answers from God - yes, yes but later, and flat out no.
We can get excited about the yes and the yes but later prayers. But what about the prayers that are a no from God? How do we process that pain or hurt in our lives? Sometimes we feel like God does not care, but is that true? Just because God said no, is this a true reflection of who He is? The answer is no because Jesus says God will not give you a stone when you ask for bread or give you a snake when you ask for fish. He is not that kind of Father, where he is trying to trick you. Earthly fathers, who are evil and give good gifts to their kids do that but our Father in heaven is good and gives us good gifts. What this means is God is going to give us what is best for us.
That’s key number three: God will answer what is best for you. Ohhhh. Let that sink in. This makes me re-think the no’s in my life. Somehow and someway God knows what he is doing and because he does love me, I must trust that he knows what is best. Just like the time I didn’t get into pharmacy school or liked a guy and he did not, or wanting to travel somewhere and it got cancelled. Those were not nos from a cruel Father, but rather it was a no from a Father who loves and cares about me.
Looking at my no from this perspective I can say God is good and he knows and sees everything. I must appreciate the closed and flat-out no’s in my life because God has something different in mind. I no longer have to walk in confusion but can keep my peace and move forward in life with hope and have passion in life again. In essence, I can breathe and enjoy my life knowing God has my back because he’s a good dad.
So the next time you are in trouble or unsure about life go to God in prayer. Remember to ask, seek and knock. Remember to have confidence that God will answer. Remember God wants the best for you.
And when you get an answer - yes, yes but later, or no - move forward with confidence and with faith in God because we have a loving Father who does care and he just wants the best for us. We just have to believe and trust God.