When I was ten years old, my grandma had to go to the hospital to have surgery for brain cancer. I prayed that she would be well and I believed she would be. That's what prayer is for, right?
She never came home from the hospital. The swelling from the surgery killed her and they were unable to remove all of the cancer anyway.
That was my first experience with death, other than a pet. And my first experience with God answering my prayers differently than I had expected.
I continued to pray throughout my life. But I wonder why? I had a very strong belief that God answered prayer, but a very strong doubt that He would answer mine.
When I was pushing forty, I went to a Bible Study called Believing God by Beth Moore. It changed my view of God and faith and prayer in so many ways. I would have to do a whole post about that to do it justice.
But there was one section on not being offended by God.
Remember when John the Baptist was in prison and he was soon to be beheaded?
There is a wonderful book called The Prisoner in the Third Cell that talks about all this. I recommend the book.
Anyway, he's in prison and he's heard all these stories of the wonderful things that Jesus is doing. Jesus, his cousin. Jesus, the Lamb of God. While still in the womb, John had recognized who Jesus was. He spent his entire life preparing the way of the Lord. Making the path straight. Clearing the way. He was a spiritual bushwhacker for Jesus (that sounds like an old fashioned sermon). Now here HE was in jail. So he asked his followers, "Is Jesus really the Messiah?" Was he thinking "if He were really the Messiah, I wouldn't be here"? "How can he be who I thought he was and let me stay locked up here?" His followers went back to Jesus and asked the question for John. Jesus gave them an answer for him. They were to tell him of all the miracles they had seen Jesus perform and of the lives that had been changed and then they were to say to him, "Blessed is he who is not offended by me."
I had spent thirty years offended that God had said no to my prayer. Thirty years holding it against Him, basically. What an eye-opener.
The thing that God had been teaching me, that came to a clear point at this time, was that if I put my faith in my request then I will be disappointed.
If I pray for something with complete confidence that God is going to give that thing, I may be disappointed. Because I don't always know the right thing to pray for. My faith is in the one who answers, not in the one making the request. My faith says "I am going to ask for this thing, but I trust God to answer the best way and I will accept His answer with thanksgiving." I have complete faith that God CAN heal brain cancer. He CAN do anything. And sometimes, because it is the best thing, He does do the miraculous. Other times, because it is the best thing, He does not.
I'm going to post more on prayer tomorrow.