Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who Gets the Breaks in Prayer?

We had a sermon at church this morning that felt as if the pastor had been hiding in our living room, watching me grapple with things over the past year. The sermon was on Psalm 73, in which Asaph chronicals his struggles with why God lets the wicked profit, while Asaph and other "good people" struggle and suffer, even though they are trying to live to please their Lord. We heard a quote during the sermon, and I want to repeat it here:

God's children must learn to think maturely about prayer. During World War II, HIS magazine ran a brief article by an army chaplain entitled "Some Pray and Die." The following quote from this article summarizes mature thinking on prayer:--

"Is there such a thing as getting the ‘breaks’ in prayer? What about the fellows who pray regularly, but get killed regularly? I wish people would stop writing about the soldiers who pray and have their prayers answered by not getting killed. Why do all the other soldiers seem to get the wrong answer? What I want to know is this: what sort of an extra-special, super-powered prayer is needed to make everything turn out the way you want it? That sounds facetious, almost irreverent, but I'm serious. I really want to know. I'm an army chaplain, and I could use some special prayers with my men--and heaven knows, we need them badly at times. Because the fact is there are always more men who pray to come back than there are men who get back. Quite a lot more. What is the deciding factor? The thing for all of us to remember is this: someone else does the answering. What you have in mind may not be what God has in mind. If you ask him something, you must be willing to take what he gives. That is why I am a bit depressed by the writings of those who try to get other people to pray by telling them that you get what you want. People must learn to want what they get. When I talk to soldiers about prayer I try to tell them that they must be adults. God expects us to be men. Only children demand a happy ending to every story. How old must we be before we begin to realize that even prayer can't get us everything we want, unless the thing we want is right for us to have?
Who gets the breaks in prayers? Nobody. There is no such thing. We get what God in his infinite love and foreknowledge, sees fit to give. That's not always the same as getting what we want. But it ought to be."

So, that's what I want - to think Biblically, to be God-focused, and to trust His hand. That may not be all I want right now, but it is most certainly what I need. Thanks, Milt.

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