There once was a man who had been unable to walk. His friends had heard of this miracle worker, who went about healing the sick and making the lame walk. When they told him the stories, the paralyzed man was filled with awe and hope. If this man was as good and as generous as they said He was, surely being able to walk was within his grasp. So they put him on a bed and four of his friends carried him to meet this miracle worker, each bearing a corner of the bed.

But alas, when they arrived, they found that the crowd had thronged the vicinity. There was no way in. Forlorn and desperate, the paralyzed man looked up… and an idea began to form.

“Lower me through the roof.” he said. So they did. And finally, he came face to face with the miracle worker. With hopeful anticipation, the paralyzed man looked at the miracle worker who, with a warm and loving smile on His face, looked back at the paralyzed man and said,
“Son, I forgive your sins.” Mark 2:1-5 [MSG]

‘Excuse me? Forgive my sins?’ that must have been the paralyzed man’s knee jerk response, don’t you think so? Clearly this man came for healing. He wanted to walk again. But instead of making him rise up and walk, Jesus forgave his sins?

Have you ever been there before? Surely you must have. We all have. We have been praying and asking our Father for something but what comes is not that which was asked for. And we start to wonder if we asked wrong, if we said the wrong thing, if God our Father suddenly developed the need for a hearing aid.

Well beloved, nothing got lost in translation. Everything is as it should be. In fact, Jesus heard you clearer than you heard yourself. Now, before you start pelting eggs, hear me out. Say you are in financial difficulty. What will you ask for? A high paying job? A big windfall? And say Jesus answers, and makes you CEO of the largest conglomerate in the world. But that takes you away to another country, away from your family. ‘My family can move,’ you say. Well, think of the hours you would have to spend in the office. What about your children? What about your spouse; alone in a foreign land, away from kin and friends? What will they do when you are not around? And maybe you get a hunk of a personal assistant, or a babe of a secretary. Spending so much time together in the office with them, instead of your spouse; what can happen? So now, does that job still seem enticing?

Does this mean that we should all just roll over and play dead? Resign ourselves to our fates? No beloved. Not even close. What I am getting at is that we should take a page out of Jesus’ playbook and focus on what really matters.

To the paralyzed man, we would expect him to be fixated on wanting to walk. After all, that is the most clear and present for him. But when we put the desire to walk next to eternal salvation? When we compare wanting to walk against the fact that one day, able to walk or not on this side of Heaven, he will pass over to the eternity where he will most certainly be able to walk; will he want to walk in Heaven or in Hell?

We never think of our problems like that, do we? That is because we set our minds on the things of the world.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

So our immediate cares and worries become the clear and present, and they take our eyes off the prize, the eternal life with God our Father. It is no wonder then that James tells us,

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3

There are two reasons why we do not have what our hearts desire. Firstly, because we get so distracted by the world telling us that we need to earn it on our own, that no one owes us a living, that if we do not depend on ourselves, no one is going to fight our battles for us, that we forget that Jesus told us,

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-11

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:12-14

“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24

We get so distracted by the cares of the world that we forget we have a loving Father who is always ready to bless us, and we then needlessly rely on ourselves.

Secondly, we do not get what we ask for because we are a bit like this;

“[Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.” James 4:3 [AMPC]

Why do we want the Ferrari? Is it really because we want to pump prime the Italian economy and save 300 jobs? Come on… We just want to stick it to that brother and make him feel small, don’t we? Now, suppose our Father really allowed that to happen, and we break our brother’s fragile spirit, and in disappointment, he turns away from our Father, what then? It’s like this;

Two men went to God. One had a father who was on his final leg. All the man wanted was for God to heal his father. The other was an undertaker whose business was going under. All he wanted was for God to give him one more sale. God can’t bless one at the expense of the other right? What more we, who want the Ferrari just so that we can upstage our brother? No wonder James says,

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

“Therefore submit to God.” James 4:7

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10

Indeed beloved, even though right now you think you are asking with all sincerity, remember Peter;

“Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Matthew 26:33

“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Matthew 26:35

Peter was so sure, yet he ended up denying Jesus. In the same way, Jesus knows what fate will befall you if you receive what you ask for. So it is not that Jesus does not want to answer your prayer and petition. For He said,

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 [NIV]

But it is precisely because He said this that is why you are not getting what you are asking for; because the very thing which you are asking for may not prosper you nor give you a hope and future. It might even end up harming you.

But take heart beloved, because before the paralyzed man left Jesus’ presence, Jesus said this;

“I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all,” Mark 2:11-12

Beloved, Jesus is not impractical. Our Father knows what we need, and even what we want. That is why Jesus says,

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:31-33

All They want is for us to keep our eyes on the prize, on what is really important, and let Them take care of the rest for us. Remember beloved, when our Father made us, He said to Jesus,

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26

We were created with the sole role and function of enjoying all the good that our Father has created. What good thing is there in this world that He will not give you?

“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.” James 4:7-8 [MSG]

Beloved, Jesus does not dismiss prayers. He just answers them in unexpected ways.

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