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Thanks for Nothing

Sometimes an unanswered prayer is the best thing for us. The psalmist says, "And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul" (v. 15). The Israelites had prayed selfishly. God was feeding them with manna from heaven, angel's food, but they wanted meat. All they had to do every morning was step out of their tents, stoop down and pick up the precious, clean, sweet, life-giving manna. But after a while their old appetites came back. They said, "Oh, if somebody would give us some meat to eat." So God sent them meat, but while they were eating it, many of them died (Num. 11:31-33).

We can learn from this experience. First, selfish prayers are dangerous. How dangerous it is to say, "Oh, God, I simply have to have this." Such prayers are never beneficial. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

Second, prayer must change our character. The Israelites got their request, but it didn't help their character. In fact, they were in worse shape spiritually after they got what they wanted. The prodigal son said, "Father, give me." He got what he asked for, and it almost ruined him. Then he came home and said, "Father, make me"--and his character changed. He began to be a real son (Luke 15:19). Selfish praying erodes our character, but praying in the will of God builds our character.

Third, we must always pray for God's will. The purpose of prayer, it has well been said, is not to get man's will done in heaven but to get God's will done on earth. Never be afraid to say, "Thy will be done."

* * *

God knows best how to answer your prayers--even whether or not to answer them! The psalmist has given three valuable guidelines for effective prayer. Do you apply these to your prayers? Let God use your prayer time to align you to His will and His point of view. Let Him prepare you for His answer.

Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group ( Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from Baker Publishing Group.

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