7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11
The bible contains a lot of “wiggle room”. When it says “ask and ye shall receive” and then goes on to explain that God only gives good gifts, there’s always the inevitable answer to someone who asked and didn’t receive – you didn’t deserve it, God knew what was best for you, you didn’t ask in faith, etc. There’s always some explanation for how the bible wasn’t wrong, but you were.
So let’s take the imperfection of the human out of the equation for the following experiment into how God doesn’t always follow through on his promises… let’s look at the life of Jesus.
“Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee,” Exodus 20:12
Here is a promise that if you honor your father and mother, you’ll have a long life. That’s pretty simple and straightforward. Did Jesus honor his father and mother? Obviously… remember, we’re using an example that removes the imperfect human from the consequences. Did he live long? At the ripe old age of 33… no. All of his disciples outlived him, and they all probably dishonored their parents are one point or another.
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
Here is a promise that if you be good to a Jew (any Jew!) that you’ll be blessed. If you’re mean to a Jew, you’ll be cursed. Was Jesus blessed? He was killed for a crime he didn’t commit. He was insulted by the Pharisees, betrayed by his own people (who still don’t worship him to this day) and put down in this blog. Sure, he got blessed, but he’s been cursed quite a bit for someone who never cursed a Jew.
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14
Here’s the first promise mentioned in this very blog. It’s not the same verse, but there are plenty of other verses to point to that and all say the same thing (Matthew 21:22, Luke 11:9, John 15:7, John 16:23, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 37:4-5, etc.), that if you ask God for something he’ll give it to you. It’s the power of prayer. So how does Jesus fit into this?
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:41-42.
This is an example of Jesus praying, asking not to be killed. But we all know that he was anyway. Clearly, you say, he was praying for God’s will to be done and it was. But if he wanted God to do what God was going to do anyway, why pray about it? When your flight is delayed, you don’t go to the airline representative and tell them that you want them to keep doing whatever they’re doing no matter how you feel about it… that’s going to happen without you registering a complaint. He prayed because he obviously wanted a favor from his Father (a reasonable demand from a man who deserved it) and was denied. But after all, if your perfect son asked for bread, wouldn’t you give him a stone too?