Why Won’t God Answer My Prayers
If my 9 year old studied Math and English the way he studies SpongeBob Squarepants, we would already be entertaining scholarship offers from Ivy League schools. So it was no surprise when we pulled into the CVS parking lot last Sunday that his eyes fixed immediately to the SpongeBob Movie promo plastered boldly on the RedBox machine just outside the front door.
“Dad, dad, dad, dad, DAD, DAAAAAD!!!!! Can we rent it? Can we get it?
I’ve been waiting for this day!!! Come on dad, give me a dollar.
Seriously, dad, can I just have a dollar? We can watch it together tonight!
Dad, dad, DAAAAAD! Please dad!”
As my hand reached reluctantly for some cash, I caught my daughter’s glance in the rear view mirror. Without saying a word, she was screaming at me with her eyes, “please don’t, dad….please don’t.”
You see, my son’s birthday is in less than two weeks, and his middle sister had already purchased the BlueRay of this cinematic masterpiece as his gift. It was sitting at home on her dresser, wrapped not only in festive paper and bows, but with all the love a big sis can muster for her annoying little brother. Letting him rent it now would ruin her heartfelt plans.
So I told him no.
And all Chum Bucket broke loose.
He begged. He pleaded. He negotiated. He called on the name of Great Neptune’s Ghost. He stood emphatically next to the RedBox machine. Stomped his feet. Asked his mom, his sister, and random people leaving the CVS for a couple of spare singles. He manipulated. He refused to get back in the car.
(If it’s not clear yet, he doesn’t easily take no for an answer — a characteristic I love about him, unless he’s using it on me).
“But why dad? It’s my favorite movie!”
“Because I’ve chosen not to let you right now.”
“But that’s not a good enough answer,” (yes, he said this). “I need to know why!”
“The answer is no, not today.”
“But daaaaaad, why not today? I want to watch it now!”
I glanced quietly over my shoulder at his sister, still wondering how all this would play out from the back seat.
“Listen, I know things you don’t know. And that’s going to have to be good enough for you right now. You’re just going to have to trust me.”
I was instantly shattered by my own words, and immediately recalled Tim Keller’s mind-blowing quote from his book on prayer:
“We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”
If Austin knew what I knew, my answer would’ve made complete sense to him (well, accounting for the fact that he’s still a 9 year old boy). But he didn’t have the whole picture. He couldn’t have the whole picture. Not yet. From his context, my hesitancy and delay was completely illogical. It’s summer break. We had no plans that evening. The movie was a perfect family activity that night, at least in the way his world was ordered.
But our world isn’t just about him. While I have his joy in mind, while I WANT to give him GOOD GIFTS, I know things he doesn’t know. And that means “no” is the best gift I can give him right now.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” — Matthew 7:11
Is God saying NO to you? Remember, there’s a greater story being told, the characters, theme, setting, and plot of which you can’t completely comprehend or understand right now. But rest assured, He gives good gifts. Do you trust Him?