And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. [1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)]
May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. [Psalm 20:4 (NLT)]
Did you find what you wanted under the tree yesterday morning? From the above words, it’s easy to think God is promising something like Christmas morning every day. Although He promises to hear and answer our prayers, He’s not so specific on how He’ll answer them.
Remember the story of King Midas? As a reward for the King’s kindness, Dionysus offered Midas anything he wanted. Coveting wealth, Midas wanted everything he touched to be changed into gold. Although warned to think seriously about such a wish, the king insisted. How thrilled he was when the twigs and stones he handled became precious metal. Midas’ joy at his gift began to fade, however, when he discovered that gold roses have no aroma and food became metal before it could be eaten. After a simple touch turned his daughter into a golden statue, the king detested the gift he’d so desired. Taking pity on him, Dionysus told the king to wash in the river Pactolus to lose his golden touch and make things right again.
While the Midas story has pagan beginnings, there is much a Christian can learn from this ancient myth, the first of which is not to love material possessions. When we pray, we shouldn’t act like children looking through the Toys-R-Us catalog or grown-ups browsing through the Neiman Marcus Christmas book marking the pages with our holiday fantasies. Prayer is not like writing a wish list to Santa for all the gifts we desire and is never an excuse for greed or selfishness.
Unlike a mythical Greek deity, God will not give us anything that could harm us. While we’re not likely to ask for a snake or scorpion, we have been known to ask for other things that could bring us harm—the extra money, the new job, the sexy guy at work, a vacation in Vegas, or that big house with an even bigger mortgage. Just like King Midas, our limited (and selfish) perspective cannot possibly see all of the ramifications of our prayer requests. We ask for things without understanding how they may affect our life or the lives of others. We may know what we want but God, in his infinite wisdom, knows what will happen if we get it. If God had given me everything for which I prayed, it would have taken way more than a bath in the river Pactolus to clean up the resulting mess and set things right again. It’s been said that God’s answers are far wiser than our prayers and, indeed, they are. With love and wisdom, in His own time and way, God will always answer our prayers. Let’s give thanks that “Yes” is not always His answer to our requests.
The devil doesn’t come in a red cape and pointy horns. He comes as everything you’ve ever wished for. [Anonymous]