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Imagine a child playing with blocks. Picture this child placing one block on the floor and then another on top of it. He says, “See, I’m going to pile the blocks clear to the ceiling!” The child thinks he is putting each block exactly on top of the others, but actually each one is a little off center. Imperfection causes the pile to eventually collapse.
Consider one of God’s promises such as, Ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7). This seems clear enough. It rests firmly on God’s Word. How could we go wrong if we ask and expect to receive? Then we add verse eight, Everyone who asks, receives. That too seems simple enough, but is it? Experience tells us that everyone who asks from God doesn’t receive all he prays for. Therefore, the “everyone” must mean those people who are already in a specific category.
Here is an illustration of what I mean. If we are talking about the people in our family we might say, “Everyone loves mashed potatoes.” The hearer knows we are referring to the “everyone” in our family. The “everyone” in Matthew 7:8, must have previously accepted Jesus as Savior. In addition, the “everyone” is assumed to be one who “abides” in Christ.
If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7 RSV).
Bible promises must be placed, in a sense, on top of one another and be based on the foundation of God’s requirements. Promises must also be claimed by Christians who are seeking for God’s will to be done rather than their own. Jesus told His disciples in John 5:30: By myself I can do nothing: I judge only as I hear, and my judgement is just, for I seek not to please myself but He who sent me. When we claim God’s promises for no other reason than to get what we want, we are destined to have our pile of promises (blocks) come crashing down.
Sometimes Christians are devastated because they earnestly tried to push themselves into believing certain promises. They piled the promises higher and higher without realizing they were getting each promise a little off center. From their own perspective they were doing exactly what they saw in the Bible. We must keep our feet firmly planted on the Rock which is Christ, so we won’t slide into error and unbelief. If we are slow learners, it may take years of walking with Jesus. During this time, I recommend that we concentrate on seeking God’s will. Once we more clearly understand His will, we are ready to believe and receive more of His promises.
In the meantime, we have a powerful tool. We can believe that He is supplying all our needs (see Philippians 4:19). Not will supply. He is supplying. He is now providing exactly what we need. He isn’t withholding blessings because we are not perfect. His goal is to help us learn what He wants us to learn during our brief time here on earth.
“But,” you may ask, “What about new Christians who so often experience answers to their prayers?” To me that is comparable to the benevolent father who holds his fingers on the child’s pile of blocks. The father keeps the pile from falling to encourage the child. Eventually the father stands back and lets his offspring learn the importance of stacking blocks correctly.
God often loves us so much that He forces us to learn, even when we cry out to Him in anguish. We want to have everything perfect today, but He wants us to be prepared for all eternity by the lessons we learn today.
If you don’t receive a miracle from God today, don’t be discouraged. Learn today what you need to learn, and maybe tomorrow will be exactly the right day for your prayers to be answered. (Reprint from May 1995)