In the best book I have ever read on prayer, A Praying Life, Paul Miller writes: "When the story isn't going your way, ask yourself, 'What is God doing?' Be on the lookout for strange gifts."
If God answered all your prayers immediately, you would have yourself a fine prayer-dispenser machine---not a relationship. But God is into relationship, as evidenced by His having been in one for all eternity. Here are a few good things God wants for you in the deserts and ambiguity that stretch between asking and receiving:
- He wants you to have a chance to get to know him.
- He wants you to have a chance to get to know yourself.
- He wants to expose your idols---and deal with them---in a natural way.
- He wants you to be in the story with Him, co-creating it as an authentic agent and not a puppet.
- He wants you to watch him weave the circumstances of your life into a work of art.
- He wants you to come to the point of surrendering completely.
- He wants you to learn to trust Him.
- He wants you to know what perplexity and the silence of God feel like, so that you can help others who are going through it.
- He wants you to have mad joy at the way He finally answers your prayer, rather than the lesser joy of an answer given too soon.
- He wants you to get to see, when you emerge from the desert, that He was there all along.
- He wants you to have a chance to hold on tight to him in the middle of the story, when you see no light---and then He wants to reward you for that.
- He wants you to give Him a chance to be Big!
- He wants to give you a chance to walk by faith and not by sight, not as a mere slogan or abstract doctrine but as an every-moment dance.
- He wants to give you a chance to learn that praying, as Miller writes, is "inseparable from repenting, serving, managing, waiting," and not an add-on in your life.
- He wants to give you "victory over little pockets of evil," writes Miller.
- He wants to give you a chance to reject what seem like answers to prayer on a silver platter that have, as Miller writes, "little tests of integrity" attached to them.
He wants relationship. How about you?
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