Prayer is mysterious. As my brother’s wife and I talked about it, we agreed that God’s ways are not our ways. We usually ask Him to “fix” our problems, but instead He may give us greater strength to live patiently with them. Still, He makes marvelous promises regarding prayer.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:7–8, NLT)The key here to answered prayer is my behavior. When I am walking with Christ and obeying the Holy Spirit, God is glorified and my obedience proves that I belong to Him. When that happens, He is eager to grant the requests of His followers. This also brings glory to Him.
I am startled at the comparisons between this and good parenting. Like any loving earthly father, my heavenly Father enjoys blessing His children and doing things for us. It pleases Him to grant our requests. He desires the very best for us.
Nevertheless, God does not spoil His children. He is wise. He gives good gifts, but He does not give me whatever I ask for in selfishness or foolishly. An example might be a teen asking for the car. A good father considers that child’s ability. Is it safe for the child to be driving the car?
He also considers his or her behavior. A good father would not grant the car keys to a teen with a rebellious and defiant attitude. Instead, that teen needs to prove her reliability, not be “rewarded” for being a brat.
God is better than the best of earthly fathers. He never pats me on the head when I am acting in selfish and sinful ways. He knows that my bad behavior is not good for me and will get me in trouble. It makes sense that He listens when I am listening and turns a deaf ear to my requests when I am behaving irresponsibly and not ready for the answer.
Yesterday He showed me that abiding is like a marital relationship. Today, He shows me that it is like a parent and child relationship. His parenting is perfect. He knows exactly what to do with me and how much He can trust me, with car keys or with many other things. My problem is that I need to work on being a more well-behaved and reliable child.