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Be careful what you pray for

By Al Cadenhead

I heard a great story many years ago about a small town where there were no liquor stores. Eventually a nightclub was built right on Main Street.

Churches were so disturbed that they conducted several all night prayers meetings, and actually prayed that God would burn down that sinful place. A few days later lightning actually struck the tavern and it was completely destroyed by fire.

The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed, sued them for the damages. His attorney claimed their prayers had caused the loss. The congregation hired an attorney and fought the charges. After much deliberation the judge declared, “It is the opinion of the court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members evidently do not!”

The Psalmist makes an interesting statement in Psalm 55:17: “Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and He will hear my voice.”

These very moving words were likely made by someone who found himself in an unwanted situation, maybe even a hostile environment. And, even though he might have been rejected or even betrayed by earthly relationships, he is confident that God will hear him and respond to his need.

What level of confidence do you have in your prayer life? Do you believe that you are being heard and that somehow the prayer you offer will make a difference? Do you have a level of confidence that makes you think carefully before you offer a prayer?

On several occasions I have been advised by some strong prayer warriors to be careful for what I pray, because I might get what I request.

A good feeling comes with an expectant prayer, the belief that prayer brings results. On the other hand, it is also very comforting to know that our prayers may not be answered because what we request is not for our good, even though we may not understand the reasons at that moment.

Surely in this reality there is no less love than in the granting of what we desire. Will not the same love that prompts us to give good prompt us to keep back evil?

If in our blindness, not knowing what we ask, we pray for things that would turn to sorrow in our hands, will not God out of love deny us?

How awful it would be at times if our requests pass straightway into reality, if we were endowed with a power to bring about all that we desire, and if sudden longings were always granted.

The process of acknowledging our indebtedness to God is an endless task. I am convinced that one day we will thank God not only for what he has granted but what he has denied.

The Rev. Al Cadenhead leads Providence Baptist Church: acadenhead@providencebc.org
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