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When Prayer Is Not Enough

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Matthew 7:7-11

“For every one that asketh receiveth.” Did we not plead for years? I understand getting an answer of “No.” or “Wait.” But when the desire of over 4,000 days is gifted, I did not expect the stone and the serpent! This verse made me wonder. I think I am a good father. If my child asked for something, and I said, “No”, but then later allowed, “Ok, you can have it.”, would I smack it out of their hands? Would I then hurt them for wanting it?
In many places in the Bible, it refers to us as adopted heirs. We are His children. In other verses, the Bible calls us the bride of Christ. Both adoption and marriage have strong legal ties in the Bible and speak to how God demands we treat our children and our betrothed. In Matthew 7, shouldn’t anyone feel confident replacing the names so the Bible verse says to them personally, “if his son, David, asks for bread, will God give him a stone?” A parent has every right to say “No” when it is appropriate, but when is it ever proper to give a stone when bread is wanted. I felt like God gave me a big, ugly stone. He placed the desire in my heart to ask for children. When I am finally offered hope with a living child in the womb, she is replaced with a hysterectomy instead.

God Is In the Doubt

All of the above is quoted from my book, God Is In the Doubt. I still wonder how these events in 2009 align with scripture. Even though questions abound, I still praise God and know He is in control. I made peace with Emily’s death. My continued grieving does not negate this peace.

After Emily died, so many other things occurred. We prayed Donna would heal from the perpetual bleeding. This only stopped almost a year later after three surgeries. She then developed an autoimmune disease causing painful skin tearing. After 13 years of praying, it still persists. Ten years ago her knee became very painful and it limited her mobility. After praying all this time and multiple failed treatment, she was finally approved for a knee replacement surgery. She has now spent 10 weeks in excruciating and debilitating post-surgical pain, most of this time without being allowed pain medication, and her mobility is near zero.

So why have these prayers gone unanswered? It’s not like other things are going well. During these 13 years, my business was burned out and failed, I had an ankle surgery that had issues taking 8 months to walk again and still is not right, and our son died.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Matthew 21:21-22

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

James 4:3

Is it so wrong to want relief from non-stop horrible pain whether walking, sitting, or lying down? Would you find it difficult to have your skin tear anytime someone brushed it wrong or you had a bowel movement? Which of these things would you find acceptable to tell someone just deal with it? I feel like we are being told, “Deal with it.”

This is why I have a problem with the idea of prayer being promoted as a way to affect outcomes. So many people act like it is something that will work, and if it does not, something is wrong with you. On the other side, the suffering person can feel like God must hate them to want them in so much pain and misery. I have faith that God can do absolutely anything, including answering prayer, but sometimes I feel like the prayers go unheard. For some people prayer seems to change their circumstances, but sometimes life stinks and some lives are a lot worse than others. Sometimes one has to white-knuckle their way through faith when prayers go unanswered.

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