Faith and Family

Jones: God gives us what we really need

By Lynn Jones

A man came forward on an invitation at the end of a worship service. The man said, “Pastor, I would like for you to pray for my hearing.” The pastor said that he would be glad to do so. The pastor launched into a long prayer informing the Lord of the problem of the man’s loss of hearing. He reminded the Lord how important good hearing is, and concluded with a request that the Lord would restore the man’s hearing.

When he was through with the prayer, the pastor asked the man how his hearing was now. The man said, “I won’t know until next Tuesday. That’s when I will go to the courthouse and appear before the judge for my hearing.”

That pastor was not the first, nor the last, to pray for the wrong thing. In fact, the people of God are always peering through a glass darkly trying to figure out what they ought to pray for.

On one occasion, James and John came to Jesus with a request that they be placed on His right-hand and His left-hand when He came into His kingdom. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking for.” They certainly didn’t. Had Jesus granted them their requests, they would have been on the crosses on Jesus’ left-hand and right-hand that day on Golgotha as He came into His kingdom.

One observer said, “When God wishes to punish us, He answers our prayers.” That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it often comes close to the truth. 

From His perspective, God can see what we really need. Often, what we want is not really what we need. A parent who grants his child’s every request could be arrested. The reason for that is that many of the requests that his child makes may, because of the child’s immaturity and lack of judgment, be positively dangerous to his well being. It is no exaggeration that the same could be said about many of our requests.

The following sign was seen in the window of a general store in a small town: “If we don’t have it, you’re better off without it.” There are a lot of things that we are better off without, and God is the One who knows what those things are. We must lean upon Him and trust His judgment.

The poet Tagore said to God, “Thou didst save me by thy hard refusals.” Every parent knows what a hard refusal is. It is the thing that you would love to grant in order to make your child happy for the moment, but it is the thing that you refuse to grant because you know that in the long run it will not bring happiness and may actually bring harm. That is why we should ultimately pray, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: