Saturday January 2, 2021 – The problem with answer driven prayer

Colossians 4:2  Devote yourself to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

I have this thing about good endings.  If a movie doesn’t have one, I’m not interested in watching it – and my family knows this about me.  This led to one of the more embarrassing moments in my life.  A few years ago I came home and Donna and our third son Andrew were watching Hamlet with Mel Gibson in the lead role.  I like Mel Gibson movies and they always seem to have good endings so I sat down to watch it with them.

Some of you have already noticed the problem.  I didn’t know what the story line of Hamlet was.  Somehow I managed to avoid Shakespeare all my life.  When we got to the end of the movie I was stunned and cried out incredulously, “He dies!?  He dies!?!!”  To which Donna and Andrew both looked at me like I’m some kind of nut and said, “It’s Hamlet.  Of course he dies.”  With my distress overflowing, I said, “You mean you let me sit here and watch this movie knowing it had a bad ending?”  Unfortunately they were laughing too hard to talk.

You might be laughing as well as you read this.  But let’s ask ourselves, “What is a good ending?”  How do we define what that is?  Good endings are nice and we all like them but a desire for good endings can become a real problem if misapplied to another area of our lives – specifically the area of prayer.  When we pray for things, what is a good ending?  What kind of answer or response from God do we consider to be ‘good’?

The issue for us to examine is what kind of expectations and preconceived notions we have when it comes to prayer.  Is our motivation for prayer, answer driven?  Are we locked into a view that prayer only works if we get an answer pleasing to us?  Do we become disappointed or discouraged if we don’t get the answers we want?  Have we responded to what we deem a ‘bad answer’ like I did with Hamlet?

Our prayer life is not to be answer driven.  Prayer is not about getting answers – it’s about our relationship with God.  It’s about entering further into the joy and vibrant life with Him that He has for us.

To be continued…


About Don Schmidt

Beginning in the fall of 2009, Don was VP of Operations & Director of Student Life for 2 years at Williamson Christian College in Franklin, TN - a wonderful, accredited 4 year college for adult learners. That is where he started writing the devotionals. The passion of his heart is to love God and to help others learn to love God more and more. He grew up in St. Joseph, MI - Class of '66. Graduated from Michigan State in '70 and Wheaton Grad School in '78. Thunderous conversion October 11, 1968. He and Donna were engaged 2 hrs & 15 minutes after they met August 25, 1969 at a Christian camp in Georgia. They married in '70 and have 4 wonderful sons. Most of his adult career has been in business in NE Ohio. They lived for 20 years in Peninsula, OH. They attended St. Luke's Ministries (Anglican) in Copley, OH for many years. Six years ago they were reassigned by the Lord to attend River of Life Community Church in Hudson, OH. St. Luke's prayerfully sent them off on this new adventure with much love.
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