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Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Snippet: May the Lord Grant All Your Requests

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.--Psalm 20: 1-5 NIV 2010

I don't know of anyone who wouldn't think it ideal to live without obstacles, to always get what we wanted, and to accomplish every plan.  Also, let me not underestimate the value of having God behind us, protecting these interests. 

At first reading, it may seem that the passage I quoted above is promising just that--our every desire granted on every side--but it actually says "may" this or that happen.  There is an interceding step.  Before we can live a life of this kind of prosperity (free of barriers), God must agree with these plans and requests.

It is impossible to convince God to agree with us, and do what we want, if His mind is already set against it (James 1: 17).  He has made it clear that He doesn't bless bad things; therefore, He won't grant us prosperity in doing wickedness, nor will He grant us something that allows the wickedness in others to prosper over us.  To restate that more simply, God won't help us victimize others, nor will He aid us in giving ourselves over to our enemies (Satan being the chief).

I'm going to assume that you, my readers, are not asking God to help you hurt others (i.e. "Dear Lord, guide my fist into my big brother's face today").  However, you may have made some requests of God, in faith, and never saw them granted.  I've been there, too.  Now, sometimes the problem is just that we haven't waited long enough to see our requests granted.  Other times, usually after we've nearly forgotten about our requests, we see that if we had been granted what we asked for, it would have been a disaster.  It's always a blessing to be allowed to see what could have been, because it reveals that God really was looking out for us, even when we were not.

Here's an example from my own experience.  I once really wanted to take a certain class in college, but it was always offered at odd times and never fit into my schedule.  I went to enroll one semester, praying (yes, praying!) that it would fit in that time.  However, when I got there, I found out that it competed with my lunch hour, so I would have been in class from morning until evening without a break.  The other classes were all prerequisites for other things, so I couldn't skip them.  I thought about enrolling anyway, but I felt God urging me not to.  Later, I heard that most of that class had come down with mono that semester, including the instructor. Whew!  My moral of the story?  When God says "no," consider that a blessing.

Getting back to the passage from Psalm 20, I will pose this question: If you say that God doesn't grant all of your requests, doesn't that invalidate Psalm 20?  Well, if you ask for things that are not good for you, it has been established, you will not get all of your requests granted.  It has also been established that if you don't see immediate results, it doesn't always mean that your request has been refused--you may just need to wait.  However, if you ask God that His will be done in your life, you will always get that request granted, and if you present requests in submission to His will for your life, and if God sees that they are right for you, those requests will be granted, as well.  Psalms 20, then, is not a carte blache request that human will should prevail, but rather a caution that God's will always prevails--may we never live in opposition to Him.

It is simple, when we come right down to it.  The only unobstructed path in this life is cleared by God, so that His plans can succeed, not the short-sighted or wicked plans the human heart can sometimes make.  We are called to obey Him, and submit to His guidance.  When we finally do (and I say finally, because we are stubborn and willful creatures), He will grant us every need that we have.  We will find that what we most desire is really what God has already desired for us.  He wants to give us good gifts (Matthew 7: 11); may we always desire those "good gifts"!

God is not like the parent who gives His children socks for Christmas, and then tries to convince the children that socks are more fun than toys.  He wants us to have fun, but He doesn't want us to come to harm.  In the same spirit, let us not be like the children who despise their parents because they don't get to eat cake for dinner every night.  May we always ask what is best for us, and may we see that it is best, and praise God for it!

Have you ever asked God for something, only to learn, some time later, that it would have been a bad thing if God had granted it?  Please share your story!

2 comments:

Jessie said...

Another way to consider this psalm is as a benediction -- that seems to be the form it follows. The "may" here is not a "maybe" or an uncertainty, but a prayer for God to do something -- a prayer that all these things will be true of Israel.

The rest of the psalm goes on to mention that some people trust in military strength, but that we trust in Yahweh. He is the only one who can fulfill the wishes outlined in the first part of the psalm. The psalm itself doesn't require anything of us, but that we trust in Yahweh above all others.

Kamal said...

Wonderful post Rachel. I am trying to recollect an instance when my prayer had been unanswered by God for a good reason which I came to know later. I will come back later with a story and will post it here. Enjoyed the post today. Keep it up.

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