Like you, in my daily prayers I ask God to give me what I want. After all, doesn’t Scripture say, “Ask and it shall be given you.” Sometimes I remind God what God already knows about me. What good deeds I have done for others. How much I have suffered, or am in need of what I ask from God. “God, I deserve what I want.”
As God’s children, aren’t we all good about asking God for what we want? And not what God wants for us? As our supreme all-knowing loving Creator, how could God ever know what is best for us ? Our prayerful wishes are far better than receiving and doing God’s will.
When I was a first-year student at Houston Baptist College (now Houston Christian University), I met a fellow student. Bill (not his name) was about 10 years older than most of my classmates. Bill was well-mannered, adorned with a head of thick brown hair, and very articulate. In the student lounge area, I asked Bill what he was studying. “Liberal arts,” he replied. I asked Bill what his career path was. Bill said, “I’m going to be a Baptist minister.” Being curious, I asked Bill, “When did you know you were going to be a minister?” Bill’s answer left me speechless.
Bill said, “I knew I was going to be a minister when my parachute did not open after I jumped out of the airplane in Vietnam.” The Army had drafted Bill to serve in Vietnam. He became a highly trained paratrooper. On this mission over the rice patties of the Mekong Delta, Bill jumped out of the airplane. He had done this many times before. This time was different. At five thousand feet neither his main parachute nor his backup parachute opened.
Falling to certain death, Bill desperately prayed for God’s help. He bargained with God. “God, I do not want to die. I promise You, if I survive this fall, I will become a minister. As a minister I will serve and thank You in that way for the rest of my life. God, please save me!”
Miraculously, Bill fell in a rice paddy. God spared his life. After a year of surgeries, rest, and rehabilitation, Bill’s broken bones healed. He was discharged and returned home to Houston. He pursued his education and religious training. He kept his promise to God. God had given Bill what he prayed and bargained for in the sky over Vietnam. In return, Bill gave God what God asked of him. To be a minister, to save and serve the lives and souls of others.
Bill is not alone. In prayer each of us, on occasion, have received from God exactly what we have asked for. Yet, many times all of us have not received what we asked God for in our prayers. What we received from God was what God wanted for us.
From the age of six until in my 30s I prayed to God every day to give me what I wanted. To be cured of polio and paralysis. To have my spine straightened. My muscles made strong. To get out of the wheelchair forever. To live the life I would have lived without polio.
At one time I really believed that God was not listening to me. God did not love me or even care about me. I was wrong. I learned that God was listening and answering my prayers all along. I had asked God for a cure. Instead, God healed me.
I came to believe that God thought I could do more as His child with my broken wings than with a strong body unbound by polio. Healing was not what I asked God for. But that is what God wanted for me. The purpose God had for me could be better fulfilled by me being healed, not cured. In my condition I could do more good for others as a collaborative divorce attorney, husband, father, grandfather, and child of God. In serving others as a polio survivor, I could better serve the God who created me and loved me.
God has spoken in Scripture about how to pray and to learn God’s will.
Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Let us pray,
Dear God, I have been selfish in asking You for what I want instead of what You want for me. Please forgive me.
God, in prayer please help me to patiently wait to learn and understand Your will and plans for me.
God, when I ask You in prayer to give me what I want, may I trust You, my Lord, to do what is best for me. That doing Your will is Your way for me to be Your love and light on Earth. The path for me to one day live forever under the lamppost of Your heavenly love for me. Amen
If you think Jack’s prayer helps you or will help someone you know, please forward it to them. Jack may never make millions selling books or writing prayers, but spreading God’s good news to others is reward enough for him.
Ann Boland, Jack’s Publicist
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