“They wilfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.” (Psalm 78:18)
Sam was on his way home after a very hard day when the thought struck him that what he really needed was a meal with great service from his favourite restaurant. When he arrived there he ordered a vein-clogging, gut-irritating meal. He couldn’t wait to sink his teeth into it and began to annoyingly thump his fingers on the table as he waited.
About twenty minutes and many watch-checks later, Sam saw the waiter heading toward his table. His first thought was to congratulate himself on the choosing of a great restaurant with superior service. But then he noticed something strange. Instead of a plate heaped with steaming, savoury food, the waiter had a large bowl in his hand with no steam rising from it.
The waiter carefully placed the bowl in front of Sam.
“This is not what I ordered,” Sam scolded the waiter, expecting him to admit to an absent-minded mistake.
“I know,” explained the waiter, “but when I considered your age and your inactive lifestyle, I decided you had made a bad choice. I asked the chef to prepare you this great, healthy salad. It is much better for you and it’s of the same monetary value as the meal you had ordered. That’s why we needed such a big bowl.”
Sam stood up and without another word he left the restaurant wondering whatever had made him think this was such a great restaurant.
Many of us are like Sam when it comes to our prayers. We think that we are ordering from a menu and that God is the Divine Waiter who will get us whatever we want. When God, in His infinite wisdom, decides that our order is selfish and unhealthy for us and gives us something far superior, we often do like Sam, we get up and leave without a word. In other words, we no longer pray or ask God for anything. Perhaps we go around telling people how we tried prayer but that it didn’t work. We think that God did not give us what we wanted either because He was unable to do so, or He doesn’t exist, or because He didn’t hear us, or He doesn’t care about us. Like Sam, we stand up and walk away wondering whatever made us think this was such a great God. But, James tells us there is a different reason for God’s answer to our prayer. He puts it this way, “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). If it seems that God has not given you what you have asked for, check your motives. Are you asking for things which will further your own pleasures or are you asking for those things which will serve God’s will for your life?