Freedom is precious and not to be taken lightly. It is desired because we all are or have been bound by something. Our hearts yearn for freedom from oppression of all sorts. We even expect someone to swoop in and rescue us so that we will not have to rescue ourselves. What if freedom is not granted in the way we wish it to be? I am convinced that sometimes being happy is just walking with God until the things that stress us out and keep us up at night no longer bother us. Many times, we chase our tails, and expect God to work like a genie, granting our every wish and desire. I don’t believe it works that way.
There are times when answers to our prayers are a resounding yes. I know for me it is more often when my will reflects His. I believe in praying for all kinds of things. However, my prayers have changed throughout the years. I remember once praying that I would win one of the major state lotteries. I prayed earnestly, “Lord, you know my heart. Think of all the good that would come from this money!” While that statement may be true, I don’t think it resembles the way Jesus taught the disciples to pray. Before praying, we should analyze our motives to make sure what we are praying for is the right thing.
Other times, there may be a “not now” response, which comes across as a no. At least it’s a no until further notice, which never seems to satisfy my timeline. Based on my limited understanding, I acknowledge God’s ways are higher than my ways. I want everything now and dislike the unbearable waiting period. I genuinely believe though that some things we need to wait for. As a child, it was bad enough that my head found the corner of every table in the house. If my parents would have given me a motorcycle when I turned seven years old, it would have been a recipe for disaster. Given my inability to properly operate one at that age, I’d consider them horrible parents for putting me at risk like that. But with aging comes the ability to grow into things that once would have hurt us. Now, as a fully capable adult, I can handle much more than I once could.
Last may come the least favorite response of them all, “no.” We pray for God to remove something from our lives and nothing changes. Or we pray hard that something will happen, and it doesn’t. This is the place where some people drop their faith off at the door and leave God behind. Others stay in the race, fighting hard to stick it out. The latter often find their relationship with God grows so deep that they cannot imagine ever being spiritually apart from Him. Even when we slip away, whenever we feel a strong pull, we are drawn back in. When we turn from our bad decisions and choose to follow Christ, our relationship with the Father blooms again without interference, shame, or guilt.
If you are gratefully living with an answered prayer, awesome! But if you find yourself in a waiting period or even denied something, don’t lose heart. Every day, God’s grace can see us through what we must face. Ultimately, we can be transformed if things do not go as we intend. When we feel trapped in our wrongful ways, apart from God, we can be set free from the bonds that hold us captive. Not just free temporarily, as is often found in a short-lived chemical dependency, but free indeed, where we no longer need those things. We are all trapped in some form of prison. The objective is not to point and laugh at each other’s weakness or look down our noses at them. No, take somebody by the hand and pray for them. Help pull them up into a better life. It’s time to be set free, like in John 8:31-36. Not just free, but free indeed!