Ask and you shall receive. Maybe. Sometimes.
I was thinking more about the reasons why I began this fast and about the conflict between what the Bible says about prayer, and what my personal experience with prayer tends to be.
The Bible says, "Ask you you shall receive" but clearly it's just not that simple. At least it hasn't been for me. I was thinking yesterday about how some prayers take such a long time to get answered, if they get answered at all. We live amid a complex system of people, culture, desire, and circumstance, all of which is always moving and changing. Our prayers are moving targets and we are archers on the run.
To move or not to move
Persistence and obedience seem to have their roles in prayer. I've been studying the stories of the Old Testament and there are two stories that come to mind: That of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, and that of Joshua at the battle of Jericho. In one, people walked in order to avoid obedience and in the other, they walked in order to become obedient. One demonstrated walking in fear and one walking in faith.
So I started wondering about my own activity. How can I know if I am buzzing around because I'm trying to avoid doing something God wants me to do, but that I'm afraid of doing? Perhaps I am in disobedience and giving me what I'm praying for violates His sense of justice and fair play. Maybe I know deep down inside what I should do and I'm just too darned scared.
In all honesty, I find myself wondering if these are actually principles that govern prayer and my relationship with God, or if they are rationalizations that I use to explain away why the Bible says I will receive whatever I ask for in faith, when clearly I ask and don't receive.
The image of a kaleidoscope comes to my mind. We set our sights on a vision, but every time we turn the barrel, the pieces of glass click and reorganize themselves, changing the entire landscape of our lives and of our desires and the details that govern them.
Maybe God isn't the one being mercurial here.