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Pointers along the way #92

Things that are not promised
- Jacob Ninan

Shall we pray for things that have not been specifically promised by the Lord? By all means. God is a good God, who likes to freely give us all things to enjoy (1Ti.6:17). We don't have to hesitate to make our requests known to God (Php.4:6). There is no catch in this, but there is need for some clarifications.

Of course there is no harm in asking God for anything. But it is good to add at the end, "But not my will, but Yours, O Father." Why?

1. We don't always know what we should ask for. We may ask for something that may be harmful for us. Let God decide what is best for us. He won't in any case give us something that is really harmful, but He might give in to our request if we pester Him too much (Ps.106.15).

2. We shouldn't think that we can get whatever we ask, even though many preachers give that kind of impression quoting Jn.14:13, 15:16, Ps.37:4, etc. The first verse talks about asking things in Jesus' name. This doesn't mean just adding "In Jesus' name" at the end of our prayer. It means asking things in line with His nature or character. The second verse talks about asking anything in connection with wanting to bear much fruit so that the Father is glorified, not just anything we like. The third verse talks about delighting ourselves in the Lord and then the Lord giving us the desires of our heart. We can easily see that what we delight in is the Lord, we won't be asking for things that are displeasing to the Lord. There is also another verse that says that we can have anything we want if we ask according to God's will (1Jn.5:14,15).

3. If we ask for things God hasn't promised but which we fancy, and we don't give God a chance to refuse, we are likely to get disappointed, and then we might be tempted to blame God for not answering our prayers.

But having said that, we can still pray for many things in hope. Since we know that He loves us and is able to do whatever He wants, we can go ahead and ask. We shouldn't be missing out on things just because we wouldn't ask (Jas.4:2). This doesn't mean that when we want something we can just "claim it by faith" or get someone to "agree with us." We have faith when we have the assurance that we will get what we have asked for (He.11:1). We can have that assurance only if God has promised it to us, either in writing in His word or through the Holy Spirit speaking to our heart. Otherwise we can only pray in hope.

I am not wrangling about words. If we claim we have faith for this or that and we don't receive it, we get disappointed and others get disillusioned with our claims about God. Let us be sensible about it.