Does walking with God mean we get delivered from whatever situation we are in?

I’ve read Vince’s book, Why Suffering? Which has greatly impacted me and deepened my confidence in God. I thank you from the depths of my heart. And I’m now a regular listener of Ask Away, I love you Jo and the perspective you bring, thank you for this also.
Verses such as Mark 11.25 “ask anything in my name…”, John 16.24 “ask and you will receive…”, John 15.7 “ if you abide in Me and I abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done unto you”, can imply that if you’re walking with Jesus, being obedient and excercising faith that you should be able to ask and see God deliver what you’ve asked for. I know from my own experience this is not how it works. I’d love to hear your interpretation of these verses (and others like them). From an unbelievers perspective It could easily appear to be a bait and switch tactic - give your life to Jesus and look what He can do… until He doesn’t.

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Hi Terina!

Thank you so much for your encouragement, I am so glad that you are enjoying the Ask Away podcast.

I am also delighted that you asked this question, because this is a topic that I spend a lot of time thinking about myself. On the one hand, anyone who has been a Christian for a while has certainly learnt firsthand that there are nuances to Jesus’ instruction to ask for anything (not least, that we are to do so “in his name”, meaning “under his authority”, or “in accordance with his will”, rather than simply on the basis of our own whims)!

And yet, I also strongly want to resist the idea which I feel like I hear all too often in Christian circles, which is that prayer is simply about falling in line with God’s will so that he can go on and do what he was already going to do anyway (which leaves one wondering, “really, if that is the case, why bother praying for anything at all?”)!

I believe Jesus when he says “you do not have, because you do not ask”, just as I believe James who wrote “the prayers of a righteous man (personally, I think women would count too!) are powerful and effective.”

My concern is that oftentimes Christians have become so disillusioned and laid back about prayer that we’ve stopped taking Jesus at his word and praying bold prayers, which in turn leads us to a fragile prayer life that inevitably doesn’t see God move in power, because truthfully, we never really expected him too and prayed accordingly.

The real challenge for us is in understanding how the two come together: how we can both live with a vibrant faith that eagerly anticipates God doing exceedingly more than we ask for or imagine in response to our prayers, and yet also has the patience to not grow disheartened or give up when God answers according to his own timing, or his greater understanding of what the true “best” is in a given situation.

There is a LOT more to say here. But as you are an ask away listener, and because your question IS deserving of so much more time, might I direct you to our episode of Ask Away where we engage specifically with this topic at some length? I think (hope) you will find it helpful.

I’d also love to encourage you to read Craig Hazen’s new(ish) book, “Fearless Prayer: Why we don’t ask and why we should”.

It’s a good one!

Thanks so much for your question, Terina. Thanks for caring deeply not only about your own prayer life, but about the expectations of new believers and how to disciple them well into prayer so that they don’t experience a “bait and switch”. It’s certainly been my experience both that there are prayers I’ve prayed for decades (and am still waiting for the Lord to answer), and yet at the same time the growing realization that the more I dare to ask, the more I do truly see God answer prayer in beautiful and transformative ways. It’s my experience of the latter that in turn gives me patience to keep asking for the former, even as I trust God’s timing and God’s heart.

I hope that in your own walk you might find the same to be true, and that the Lord lifts your spirits and encourages your heart through your conversation with him, and the petitions that you bring him.

Blessings,

Jo

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