Monday, 20 April 2009

Why doesn't God answer my prayers?

#6: God gives us choices

I don’t really understand why the Almighty God who created our wondrous rolling spheres, holds the keys of time in His hands & creates beauty with the gentlest whisper, continually chooses to limit His own power. It’s hard to grasp why a supreme being would decide to refrain from asserting His dominion unilaterally, and instead respect the laws of nature & the choices of His creatures.

Greig suggests that we “see this willingness to relinquish control ultimately expressed in Jesus. Here is the omnipotent God becoming an incontinent baby.” This indignity was further compounded by a cruel death at the hands of the very humans to whom He breathed new life. I have come to realise that we cannot really fathom the dynamics of unanswered prayers unless we grasp God’s determination to respect the free will of humanity.

I have just become the proud father of a little bundle of joy & poop called Jacob. Already I’m a besotted daddy bore & experiencing a new wave of emotions which accompany “paternal love.” But fast forward 15 years and this little bundle is an adolescent; in transition en route to adulthood. At this stage I will still have some measure of control over Him. For example, I could demand that he declares his love & devotion to me before I relinquish pocket money & transport him to see his peers.

But “enforced love” is an oxymoron. The deepest fatherly satisfaction arises when a son freely chooses to display affection to his dad. And so it us with our Heavenly Daddy who receives the upmost delight when we voluntarily submit to His will & love, but in order to achieve this God leaves open the dangerous possibility that we might disobey Him.

And so if our unanswered prayers revolve around the Holy Spirit enforcing someone to do something – even if we have that individual’s best interests at heart – we must realise that our God gives all of us freedom to make choices, whether these are positive or negative. And while He may use our prayers to draw near to others & knock on the door of their hearts, He is unlikely to break down the entrance & force His way in.
"To use the analogy of a restaurant, prayer helps to present people with the menu, and perhaps it can even make them hungry. Yet because prayer is not a control mechanism, it cannot force the food into their mouths. Frustratingly, it's up to them to order & eat. Only then will they 'taste & see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34:8)." by Pete Greig.

(Thoughts developed from Pete Greig’s “God on mute”)

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