Would you rather have a penny from God, or God Himself? In his sermon, “The Disciple’s Prayer” published in Preaching Today, Haddon Robinson told a story about a game he played with his young children:
When our children were small, we played a game. I’d take some coins in my fist. [The kids would] sit on my lap and work to get my fingers open. According to the international rules of finger-opening, once the finger was open, it couldn’t be closed again. They would work at it until they got the pennies in my hand. They would jump down and run away, filled with glee and delight. . . .
Sometimes when we come to God, we come for the pennies in His hand.
“Lord, I need a passing grade. Help me to study.”
“Lord, I need a job.”
“Lord, my mother is ill.”
We reach for the pennies. When God grants the request, we push the hand away.
More important than the pennies in God’s hand is the hand of God Himself. That’s what prayer is about.
Prayer is not trying to pry God’s fingers open until He gives us what we want; it is clinging to God as He carries out His work on earth. In his book, Discover the Power of Prayer, my father explains God’s work may include circumstances we don’t understand. It may include situations that catch us off guard and knock the wind out of us. Through prayer, we find a hand to hold in the tough times rather than just a few pennies. Prayer gives us God Himself.
Have you been using prayer to try forcing God’s hand, only to be disappointed? Maybe you’ve been praying for a mate, and the years keep passing by without an answer. Perhaps you have been praying for God to help a friend get through a difficult time, but their situation only seems to get worse. The outcome has you wondering if God has been listening to your prayers at all. I can assure you that even though He may not answer your prayers as you want, God always hears and does what is best. Cling to this truth today.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder