Despite everything I know and everything I’ve experienced, I am growing more and more aware that my default setting with God is still to think I can earn or lose his care for me and mine. When I slip into prayer for someone I am close to there is still a sliver of assessment that goes on, some mental bookkeeping, to see if I stand a good chance of getting this one answered.
C.S. Lewis described our situation with God by talking about children borrowing money from their Dad to buy him a present. The end result, “sixpence none the richer”, was a warm way of saying that all we have is from God, comes from God, is already God’s. It’s an illusion he allows us to have when we think we’ve got anything to offer God that didn’t come from him in the first place.
So why do I still default to “making his list, checking it twice…”? I know that that’s not how God relates to us. I know the rain falls on the just and unjust, the sun rises and sets for all of us, gravity isn’t random or based on good behaviour.
I wasn’t raised this way. I didn’t have one of those fathers who base their care, affection or approval on performance. Definitely there were expectations but I lived down to most of those and I never felt unloved. No question we had arguments about what I was or was not capable of and usually my bar was set much lower than my father’s and still I was looked after, given gifts, made to feel safe.
And I have history with God as well. He’s loved me when I’ve been a major ratbag and he’s loved me when I’ve yelled at him. He’s given me good things and never once turned off oxygen in my personal atmosphere. He’s been playful with me, kind, faithful, generous and patient.
Yet. Not every prayer I’ve prayed gets answered as asked. Some have. That’s what confuses me sometimes. Was it the wording? Something I did or didn’t do? That’s where I go to. If he never answered I suppose it would be easier. But to sometimes see miracles or massive coincidences, to hear a quick reply or for things to come together better than asked for should leave me confident or o.k. for the other times. But if I’m honest…and that’s an easier way to live…I have to admit that it leaves me confused at times and wondering if I should’ve done something different.
Why does God answer your prayers? What’s your explanation for why one person gets better and another person gets worse? What’s your default setting?