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    When God Says No

    What is the true purpose of prayer? May 25, 2017 by Lieutenant Laura Hickman
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    When David and I first got married, we seemed to have car trouble every time we went on a road trip. Before entering training college, we decided to spend the summer driving west from Ontario to British Columbia. The trip started smoothly, but on our third day, things changed.

    On this particular morning, we got in the car, buckled ourselves in and David turned the key in the ignition. Nothing happened. A couple of attempts later, we were still in the motel parking lot, wondering what to do. I decided to turn to the best place possible when in trouble—God.

    I prayed something like, “Thank you, God, for this trip and the time we've been sharing together. Thank you for a good night's rest. Father, we trust you to guide the way safely from here. Thank you that when I say amen, this car will start and we will once again be on our way. In Jesus' name, amen.”

    I asked David to try again, and the car started. While we shouldn't have been amazed that prayer worked, we were surprised that it worked immediately! If only every prayer could result in the same kind of instantaneous deliverance from times of trial.

    Sometimes, it can feel like prayer is pointless. Regardless of how hard I pray, how often I present a request or how many prayer warriors I ask to pray with me, there are still times when it feels like prayer hasn't worked. It has even felt like the result was the opposite of what I asked, or that it made things worse. But while it may feel like prayer has failed, I'm convinced this isn't the case.

    What I have come to understand is that prayer isn't about getting what I want in every situation, even when what I want would result in honour and glory for God. Prayer isn't a magic formula. So what do you do, where do you go, when things don't turn out the way you want?

    Lately, God has been challenging me to consider the true purpose of prayer. Is it really about changing our circumstances, or is it possible that prayer is about changing me in the middle of my circumstances?

    I believe that God is faithful and good. I believe that God ultimately wants what is best for his children—even when our versions of what is best do not match his.

    Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This answer to prayer is always reliable.

    I will continue to pray for specific desires, hoping that what I am praying for is pleasing to God and in line with his will. I will also pray that when things don't turn out as planned or as hoped, when I can't understand why, that God will grant me the peace that transcends all understanding, and faith that I am securely planted on the solid foundation of Christ.

    Lieutenant Laura Hickman is the corps officer at Suncoast Citadel in Goderich, Ont.

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