In the movie Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey’s character was given almighty powers by a fictitious God (played by Morgan Freeman) to teach him how difficult it is to run the world. While the movie does not focus on providing sound theology, there are many spiritual aspects in the story that are worth contemplating.
There is a funny scene in the movie where Bruce is overwhelmed with prayer requests sent in to God (in the form of emails) that he decided to respond with “YES” to every single prayer requests. “Now everybody is happy” he quips, only to realize later that what ensues as a result was disastrous. Here are some of the answered prayers in the movie:
- Someone improved his tech-stocks
- Someone grew taller
- A person’s daughter pitched a “no hitter”
- A woman lost 45 pounds on a Krispy Kreme diet
- 400,000 people won the lottery within the same district
While some of the examples of answered prayers above may seem harmless, we can only imagine the chaos of having 400,000 instant millionaires in the same area!
Pastor Brad Bergman wrote about 7 Reasons Why God Won’t Answer Your Prayers, which is worth a read to understand more about our motives and desires, and making sure that our prayers line up with God’s will. That being said, there are still God-centered prayers that often go unanswered, leading us to question our level of faith, or doubt the goodness or even the existence of God.
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” – Matthew 20:20-23 (NIV)
“Do not be like them (who prays with too many words), for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”- Matthew 6:8 (NIV)
The problem of unanswered prayers often occurs because we ask before thinking or counting the cost. We often seek things from God before seeking God Himself.
I have heard it explained with the analogy of a bear being captured in an urban area, in order to be relocated back to its natural habitat for safety. From the bear’s perspective, the temporary discomfort and suffering is unwelcomed, even though it is necessary for its long-term survival and well-being. In the same manner, we often lack the larger perspective of God’s will for our lives when we are overly focused on our instant needs and wants.
Could it be possible that God is not answering some of our prayers immediately because He has a long-term plan that leads to a better hope and future? God wants what is best for us and because of that, He does not answer all of our requests.
God cares more about our characterthan our comfort. While we cannot prove the existence of God simply by the change in our external circumstances, be encouraged that we can all experience change in our internal attitudes when we pray!