Thursday, January 12, 2012

Praying for a Fish

It was a hot summer vacation day in Alabama.  I had been fishing from Uncle Harry’s boat dock for at least an hour without so much as a nibble.  I don’t know if anyone else had caught anything yet.  That didn’t really matter.  What mattered to me is that I hadn’t caught anything. 

Recognizing that God created the earth and everything in it, I decided to pray.  That should do the trick!  I’ll pray that God will let me catch a fish.  After all, Jesus told the disciples to cast their net on the other side of the boat, and they caught a whole mess of fish.  Wait, maybe I should try fishing on the other side of the dock.  No, that didn’t work either.  It was time to pray.  “God, I know that you have control over everything.  I really want to catch a fish today.  I want to catch a big fish, bigger than any fish I’ve ever caught.  When I open my eyes, let it happen … please.”

I opened my eyes, expecting to see the red and white bobber being pulled under by a huge fish.  But nothing happened.  “God, why didn’t you answer my prayer?  All I want is to catch a big fish.”  Oh yeah, maybe I didn’t have enough faith.  Or maybe I should confess a sin or two, and then God will hear my prayer and let me catch a fish.  I confessed what sins I could think of at the moment, and threw in “and any unknown sins I’ve committed”, just to be sure.  I mustered up every bit of faith I could muster, and asked God again, “Please God, let me catch a fish … NOW!”  Still, nothing happened.  I decided it wasn’t God’s will for me to catch a fish that day.

Have you ever felt that way?  There may have been something that you really wanted, or thought you needed, and you asked God for it, but you were met with silence.  If prayer doesn’t work, why do we pray?

First, we need to recognize that God is not a genie in a bottle, waiting to grant us any wish if we ask him with just the right words.  He is the Almighty God, creator of the heavens, the earth, and all that is in them.  He is not waiting to do our bidding.

God tells us to come to him in prayer.  We can cast all of our cares upon him and he will hear us when we pray.  But prayer is much more than just asking for things.  Prayer is an act of worship.  It is how we acknowledge that He is God, and we are not.  When we bow before Him in prayer, we are releasing control to Him.  We are placing our faith in Him who loves us to do in us what He will, not for our glory or satisfaction, but for the glory of God.

The fishing story occurred in my youth, but I do confess, I’ve had some prayers like that as an adult as well.  That kind of prayer leads to frustration and doubt because it is focused on me and not on God.  There’s nothing wrong in asking God for a fish.  Just remember that you are His servant, and He is not yours.

“The more I’m in tune with the fact that I’m talking to the Creator of the Universe, the [fewer] words my prayers require.”  - Louie Giglio

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