“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened” [Matthew 7:7-8].
I know this scripture is out of context but it is from Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount. When we ask, seek and knock we are engaged in the act of prayer.
The title of Chapter 4 in The God Who Hears intrigues me to the point that I want to comment on the idea “Can Prayer Change God’s Mind?” before we turn to the content of the chapter. In Matthew, Jesus implores us to ask, seek and knock but why do that if God has made up His mind about your situation already?
I think many Christians feel that changing God’s mind is the reason they need to pray so they reply “I hope so” when you ask them “Can Prayer Change God’s Mind?”. Maybe they don’t have what they want in their life [for whatever reason] and they need something. They pray to change God’s mind so God can take care of what they lack. Who better to ask than a sovereign God? I have to admit that prayers like this may seem like praying to the divine gift-giver but that is how some people conceive of our Lord and Savior. I knew a man once who did not believe much in work, yet from time to time he would get help from other people. He never referred to a gift from another person as merely a gift; these tangible items were all “blessings from God”. The problem is that prayer like this may have some very negative effects: the praying person is centered on material possessions too much, if they don’t get what they want, their relationship with God may suffer and they are not praying for others at all. They are praying for personal gain when maybe they should be praying for the friend who has just been admitted to the hospital. They are generating a lot of self-centered prayer.
Would it hurt your prayer life if you thought you could not change God’s mind? What if God knows what you need more than you do? Can you admit that? You may be praying for a new car but God knows you need to save your money and invest it for the future. If God knows all, maybe the investment route is the one you should take. Will that make you happy or will that make you frustrated? Many times I find myself praying this phrase to God: “If it be thy will.” I have to admit I put that in because I think what I am praying for may not be in the will of God. In short, I can admit that my will and God’s will may be disconnected. God may know what I need more than I know.
This leads me to the final point: do we need to have the power to change the mind of God at all? I suspect we do not. I think back over the times in my life when I have had colossal failures. Most of those times were when I did not consult God about my desires. I knew what I wanted and went after it like a “dog after a bone”. I know that “positive motivation gurus” may disagree with me but all of the motivation and hard work in the world won’t yield the best results if your goal is something out of the will of God. At times in my life when I prayed for His help and His guidance, I have had my biggest successes and the work toward my goal was easier instead of harder. It was almost as if He were guiding me down the path He wanted me to take, otherwise known as “flowing in the Holy Spirit.”
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
These words sound like an open and shut case. Open the door and go in and there you will find your heart’s desire. How many times is that true? Have you always been given what you asked for? None of us gets what we want all of the time and that may be good.
There is an old saying: “Happiness is not getting what you want; it is appreciating what you have.”
What that means to me is that we should be content with what we have, appreciate what we have and admit that what we have is probably what we need.
God’s true gifts to us.