Be careful what you pray for…

photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc
photo credit: ashley rose, via photopin cc

Ever heard the saying, Be careful what you pray for…because you just might get it? I’m curious…do you agree or disagree with the warning?

Usually the warning comes at a time like this…you’re in a small group and taking prayer requests.

Janey: “Please pray for me. I need need to be more patient.”

Lucy: Girl, be careful what you pray for. God won’t give you patience, he’ll give you the opportunity to learn patience.

i.e. You don’t want to ask for that because your life will get worse instead of better.

What a load of horse pucky.

Do you believe God is sovereign and good? (Because He is). If you do, then why should you fear to ask Him for anything? Don’t all good and perfect gifts come from the Father above (James 1:17)? If we ask God for a fish, will he give us a snake (Luke 11:11)? If we ask for Him for an egg, will he give us a scorpion (Luke 11:12)? If we ask Him for patience, will He make our life worse?

And what about biblical passages like these:

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

[Jesus:] “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10

photo credit: Art4TheGlryOfGod via photopin cc
photo credit: Art4TheGlryOfGod via photopin cc

Of course, it’s never that easy, because there is always a caveat. The key is why you’re asking.

You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. ~ James 4:2-3

And if you’re really boneheaded about it, God might go ahead and give you what you ask for like he did in the case of the Israelites. Remember when they wanted to be like everyone else?

“Look,” they told [Samuel], “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” ~1 Samuel 8:5

But God saw their request for what it really was:

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” ~1 Samuel 8:6-9

Samuel warned them what it would be like to have a human king, yet they persisted. And God granted their request.

So should you be careful what you pray for? I don’t think so. Go ahead and ask. Go to God with all of your worries, desires, wants, and needs. It’s not so much what you’re asking for that’s the problem, it’s why your’re asking. Check your motives. Are you wanting God to give you what you want because you want it? Are you treating Him like a vending machine in the sky? Or are you asking for what you want, but desiring God’s best even if it’s not what you’re thinking?

I’m reminded of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” ~Luke 22:42

Take anything and everything to God in prayer, but do so with humility and thankfulness. If you do that, go ahead and ask for whatever you want.


Now for the book tie in. 🙂

Nadine Brandes’s debut novel, A Time to Die, releases today. Her premise ties into the concept of being careful what you ask for. In the book, society wanted to know the exact time of their deaths so they could plan their lives appropriately. So God, through technology, granted their request. At the time of conception, each person is coupled with a clock that shows the exact time of that person’s death. To the second. A countdown to oblivion.

And what ended up happening? In that society, clocks have become everything. If you don’t have one, you’re killed/exiled. Your life and worth are based on how much time you have left to give to society.

And would you really want to know exactly when you would die? How would that change things for you?

Congratulations to Sparks of Ember for winning a free e-copy of A Time to Die!

For those of you who didn’t win, you still have a chance!




12 thoughts on “Be careful what you pray for…

  1. In reading A Time to Die, I couldn’t help but wonder if truly, did God give them their wish? Or did the government enforce it by giving each person a random “set number”?

    And great article! I think it’s easy to buy into the lie aforementioned above when we have fun movies like Evan Almighty. Makes sense to a human, but is it true? Thanks for pointing that out and giving us something to think on. 🙂


    1. She really doesn’t say. I was basing it on this great line from the book:

      “I guess God decided to share the coveted knowledge. Either that, or we stole it from Him. Personally, I think He just gave the world what it thought it wanted: control.”

      Such a great way to begin a novel. 🙂

      But it’s like the story where Israel wanted a king. The people said “GIve us a king so we can be like everyone else.” Does that mean it’s what every person wanted? Probably not. There must have been someone in there that knew it was a bad idea. But clocks are like kings, I guess. Forced on the entire society. 😉

      I’m so glad you liked the post. Thanks for commenting JL!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this! Great tie-in and a thought provoking question. I do think I subtly fall into that “be careful camp.” But part of it may be that so much of what we really learn, and what stays with us, happens through experience. That said, we don’t need to fear those experiences when we trust a good and sovereign King to govern our lives and be our daddy. I also don’t fall into the camp of “God wants me happy and if I have enough faith, my life will be good.” (I don’t think that is what you were trying to say, by the way). There’s a balance of trusting the Lord to lead you through where you need to walk to do His will, to become refined, and to allow Him to be glorified through you.


    1. You’re right. Trusting God can be hard because if you give your life over to Him, he’s bound to take you in places to grow you and that can be very uncomfortable. (Been there, done that, don’t regret it even though I didn’t enjoy it at the time).

      I used to think that once you became a Christian that nothing bad would happen to you. (Really bad theology). But that’s not the promise. The promise is that when bad things happen, you’re not alone. God is there with you. #lessonslearned

      Thanks for sharing, WriteFitz.


  3. I try to live in a state of “#LifeStyle” prayer, now. Now having said that I have become more cautious what I pray for. And the reason I say this is highlighted in the two part blog I wrote called “Facing My Giants” I/II. I do take any and all prayers to the Savior and I trust Him implicitly – but I realize my will does not always align with HIS WILL.



    1. Kenzel,

      Feel free to share those links if you’d like. I plan to go find them and read them.

      I’m trying to be more intentional about offering constant prayers myself. I think of God often throughout the day. Thanks for taking the time to comment!


  4. Yay! Thank you! I can’t wait to read it. You’ve got me extra curious how the system works now – I was thinking this was more of a “random-#s-assigned-and-then-enforced” scenario. But your discussion seems to be implying something a bit different. Can’t wait to find out!

    I’ve joked around about the patience thing but don’t believe it. And I’ve heard some people say you shouldn’t bother God with the little stuff, but I don’t believe that either. He’s in our hearts, walking with us every waking moment. Closer than a brother, knowing us through and through. So when it comes to prayer, while I do drop to my knees for specific focused prayer-times, 95% of my prayers are more of a constant running dialogue with Him about absolutely everything. “Lord, I want this. But I want it because of this reason. And I want Your best and will for me more than anything else. So if I can have my selfish wish, then great. But if not, help me cling to You while I go through it.”

    I wouldn’t want to know when I will die. And we should strive to live every moment like it could be our last, I suppose. But as Christians, it’s only the end of this life – the beginning of something greater. So I’m not all that worried about leaving things undone – as long as I have loved my family as much as I can, shared the gospel with those I care about – the rest of it is just garnish.


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