“I took my car over to Mike’s Auto Repair yesterday,” Stan commented one morning while wee waited for breakfast.
“Something wrong with it?” I asked.
“No,” he replied, “Just regular service.”
“How’s Mike?” I asked. “Haven’t seen him for awhile.”
“He’s just fine,” Stan replied. “Nothing about Mike ever seems to change, not even his taste in music!”
“Taste in music? How so?”
“Well,” Stan replied, “when I picked up my car, the radio was tuned to a station that plays country music. Mike must have been listening to that when he took the car out for a test drive after the service.”
“You like country music?” I asked.
“Not so much,” Stan replied, “but when I started the car, the song I heard was something about thanking God for unanswered prayer, so I listened to it and recalled something I had read in the Bible, just the other day, something that related to that.”
“Thanking God for unanswered prayer? Why would a person do that?”
“Praying for something less than or different from what God has in mind,” Stan replied.
“You ever done that?” I asked.
“You just as well ask me if I’ve ever taken a breath,” Stan replied with a smile. “My prayers have been so misguided way too often. Praying for the wrong things and then later being thankful God didn’t give me what I asked for. Actually, I saw something like that in the Bible just the other day.”
“Thanking God for unanswered prayer?”
“More like being shown the wisdom of God in not doing what we ask,” Stan replied.
I didn’t respond, so he continued. “In Luke’s gospel, there’s an account of when Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and the cross. He and His disciples were in Samaria when He sent some of the disciples ahead to make arrangements for Him, but the Samaritans did not receive Jesus, and a couple of the disciples, James and John, asked Jesus if He wanted them to command that fire come down from heaven and destroy the Samaritans.”
“They could do that?” I asked. “Bring down fire from heaven?”
“Guess so,” Stan replied. “That’s what it says.”
“Did that happen?” I asked.
“Nope,” Stan replied, “and that’s the point. God had something else in mind rather than destroying the Samaritans for unbelief.”
“What’d He have in mind?” I asked.
“Later, after Jesus had gone to the cross, been resurrected, and ascended into heaven,” Stan replied, “in the Book of Acts it’s recorded that the same Samaritans had accepted the truth and had come to faith.”
“So,” I said, “if they had been destroyed by fire being called down from heaven, they couldn’t have come to faith; is that it?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “Simple point. God knows best. He knew the Samaritans were going to come to faith even though some of the disciples wanted to destroy them. Thank God for not answering our shortsighted prayers!”
Bible verses to consider:
And it came about, when the days were approaching for His ascension, that He resolutely set His face to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him. And they went, and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make arrangements for Him. And they did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. Luke 9:51-55.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. Acts of the Apostles 8:14-15.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you know better than I do about what you are going to accomplish. Thank you, too, for the many times you have not answered my shortsighted and misdirected prayers that were contrary to your will. Please help me in following every step of your lead so that my prayers are only in accordance with your will. Help me to pray in that way and help me to follow your answers that are your will. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you ever thanked God for not answering your prayers? If so, what was that all about? When God does not answer your prayers the way you want, what is your normal reaction? Do you take the time to examine why God may not have answered your prayer the way you wanted? If no, maybe you should give that some thought. What do you think?