Why doesn’t God answer prayer the way we expect?

Ever seen a kid on a leash? Not an animal leash. Like a harness thing for toddlers. I saw one some time ago and thought it was a pretty cool contraption. I know some people don’t like them, and I understand the reasons why. But still—seems like a neat way to let a kid explore the world without getting too far away.

It’s usually expected in our culture that parents watch over their kids. At least in some form. But if you hover, you’re called a helicopter parent. Seems to me a leash is the best of both worlds. But then, I’m single with no children, so I may not be the best source for things like this.

What I do wonder sometimes is whether or not God is a leash-type of parent, because it seems to me that He is. And, you know, I’m actually okay with that.

Mom and baby red pandas chilling at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Mom and baby red pandas chilling at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are 1 John 5:14-15.

And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

I know God hears my prayers, but He rarely answers my prayers the way I want. I mean, I have those few examples of times when He’s helped me remember where my keys or when situations worked out to my benefit. But generally speaking, God doesn’t snap His fingers and give me what I want just the way I want it or even when I want it.

I have so many examples of answered prayer in my life, but none of it happened the way I thought it would. Best example?

I have a published novel. Sort of. At least, it will be published in December 1. But it didn’t get published in a normal way. No, God pretty much opened all sorts of doors for me to start a publishing company first.

Not what I planned. At all.

Another example? I wanted to write for a living. I wanted to build a career using my writing skills, and I planned to be a journalist. Where am I now? I work for a plumbing manufacturer—a company with a global workforce of 5,000 and I am the only full-time company creative writer. I make a living writing… about plumbing. But I’m writing for a living.

Not what I planned either.

In every instance of answered prayer in my life, God answers in a way that shows me He wants what’s best for me but doesn’t allow me to stray too far away from Him. Let’s take this crazy novel of mine. I had reached the point in its life that I either had to self publish it or give up on it, so when God said, “Start a publishing company!” I wasn’t sure I was hearing Him correctly.

Nameless, by A.C. Williams, available December 1

Nameless, by A.C. Williams, available December 1

So, yes, God provided a way for my first novel to hit print (December 1), but my need for God to be involved with it doesn’t end when my book hits Amazon. No, I need His help to influence decision makers and others in the bookselling industry. I need His help to keep the company running. I need His help to make wise decisions. If anything, I need Him more now that my prayer is answered than when I did before.

Have you got examples like that in your life? Where God answers your prayer in a way you didn’t expect but still makes it necessary for you to hold tighter to Him than you did before?

I really think that’s the same idea as a leash, especially for stubborn, strong-willed people like me. I know just enough and I’m just capable enough that I can go my own way and do my own thing on my own without God’s help and be pretty much okay for a while. I know that about myself.

But I don’t want to be okay. I want to be extraordinary. And I can’t accomplish that without God’s help. He knows it, and I know it. And that’s why I can’t wander too far off. I’ll get myself in trouble.

So when God doesn’t act when or how I want Him to, I need to chill and trust His plan. Because no matter how you look at it, I’ll need him more tomorrow than I do today.

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