God is an eternal farmer, not a divine vending machine
"If you believe, you will receive anything you ask for in prayer."
-Matthew 21:22 (NRSV)
Has anyone else struggled to believe this verse? I mean, God's word is always true. But seriously, ANYTHING we ask?
I think one of the keys here comes in that word for "believe." In its original Greek form it's a participle (believing) that comes from the root word "pistis." That word encompassed the English words for both belief and faithfulness. So does true faith.Faith cannot be just about how we feel or what we think. Nor can it be fulfilled through dry, feelingless actions. When we truly and deeply believe something to be true, how can we NOT act upon that conviction? To do otherwise would leave us with a divided heart, which will lead to all kinds of other trouble in our lives.
It's like the difference between healthy fruits that come from a farm and the junk food you buy in a vending machine. Sometimes we treat God like a vending machine, inserting our fleeting desires and wishes (in the forms of prayers) with the expectation of immediate gratification. Has anyone else ever lashed out at God the way we kick and shake a vending machine that does not immediately yield our chips or cookies? Our heavenly provider is much more like a farmer, nurturing and tending to even the smallest seeds of faith, to yield something far more satisfying, productive and reproducible in the long run.
True faith has to involve a deep conviction that constantly seeks understanding, which leads to meaningful actions. This is not an action FOR the purposes of God's blessing and acceptance, but rather a response that comes FROM that place of true contentment in Christ. So basically, if we are constantly seeking after God's will and God's heart, than that is exactly what we will receive, more and more-so as we grow in grace.
Therein lies true contentment. I've been in that place, and there is nothing sweeter. I have also quite often stepped out of that rest in pursuit of lesser things. But God's grace can always bring us back.The bottom line is, when we open our hearts fully to the ways of God,God fills our hands and lives with blessing beyond measure.
Click here To briefly explore the meaning of the root Greek word for faith.
Click here to read Matthew 21.
Click here to order a copy of Karen's book, An Anointed Mess: Discovering the Daily Adventure of Grace.