Ah, the age-old question: I keep praying. Why isn’t God listening?!
You know that Bible piece, “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened…” Soooo, why aren’t I getting my answers?
Well, let’s explore that one today.
In context of the “ask, seek, knock” verse, look at the situation described in Matthew 7. Do you see that the before-and after scenes described here show relationships? The chapter starts by describing a judgemental person. It says, “Don’t judge, so that you yourself will not be judged.” ( Funny how so many of our requests revolve around relational issues, isn’t it?)
Okay, well, let’s face it. We ALL judge. We all see things in other people that we don’t like. So, take a minute to look underneath the criticism. Why are you doing it? Seriously. Ask yourself, Am I simply frustrated because I don’t like what they’re doing? Is it a threat to my security or pride, or are they truly doing something wrong?
Ponder as well, What do I want from this person?
What – in your mind- would fix the problem?
Now, the difficult question: Am I doing the same thing to them, perhaps in another way?
In our frustration, it can be a challenge to think in this sequence, but it will help define your answers.
Next, are we offering them solutions that are right and holy and mutually beneficial? Or are the ‘suggestions’ self-centred, based on our own desires? Are you truly hearing why – he/she is doing what they do? In other words, have you carefully considered their viewpoint?
Even though they may be in the wrong, do they feel heard – and understood – by you?
Another key point is this: Are they asking you for your opinion? If not, you can ask if they’re interested in your idea to fix this problem, but, if they answer in the negative, don’t throw away your time!
This is all prep work, but it is also good maintenance work. Every relationship will take this kind of effort to keep it healthy and sound. You may think it’s time consuming, but the long-term dividends pay very well! If your repeated attempts to communicate in a healthy, holy way are refused, then stop wasting your time! Don’t throw away your gift, your value, or your time where they are discarded, but don’t lose your own grip on doing what is right in the process!
So, back to the ‘ask-seek-knock’ question… You see, God sets up an evaluation system so we can judge ourselves too. If we have determined that 1) we are not judging, and that 2) we’ve cleaned up our own tendency to do the same thing, and that 3) we’re not wasting time trying to change someone who isn’t open to improvement, then look at this, What are you asking for, and why?
The book of James gives some great insight into this by saying, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Don’t they come from your desire for pleasure, that wars in you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.”
Then it goes on with the kicker: “You ask and don’t receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
God yearns for us to desire friendship with Him first, rather than friendship with things that will never bring us life. True, they may bring amusement and momentary pleasure. Sin is always attractive enough to be very alluring, but always the enemy of the best.
Have you taken your request, be it physical, material, personal, etc. to God? Matthew goes on to say that He’s a good Father, who wants to give good things to those who ask Him.
Let’s run those unanswered requests through the above filters, and ask if they fit His standards.
Am I asking for what is good and right? Are my reasons self–pleasing, or do they have a holy motivation? Am I willing to hear God, if perhaps His solution is based on my ultimate good, but not my immediate pleasure?
What are your thoughts?