You pray and pray and wonder why your prayers aren’t answered. If God loves me, why doesn’t He answer me? Is it because He doesn’t care? Am I doing something wrong? Such questions are common, and they don’t make God upset with you. But a more helpful question often is, Are you praying for a miracle? Or for magic?
Here’s the way some prayers go. You’ve got a problem; not enough money, physical or mental illness, a painful relationship. You want to get married. Or to have a baby. Or a certain job. You ask God for it. And ask. And ask.
Then when you don’t see the result you desire, you try changing tactics. Maybe if you fast – yeah, that should do it. Or you get two or three others to pray for the same thing for you. Or maybe if you pray louder or longer, or give up television, or give a really big offering. And you cry; God will see your tears, right?
I want to be very careful here. Persistent ongoing prayer, fasting, praying with others, generous giving – those are Biblical principles of effective prayer. God does see your tears. But too often what’s going on is that you’re trying to find the right words or actions to get something from God that you think He should get for you. You’re trying to control and manipulate God. You see Him as a heavenly vending machine; put in a prayer, get out a blessing. You’ve just got to find the right coin to insert.
That’s magic. And God’s not into magic.
But He’s definitely into miracles.
Magic or Miracle
Magic means you’re trying to find the right wand to wield, the right talisman to wear, the right words to say in a ritual (read: prayer). You may even run from Christian leader to Christian leader trying to find the one with the right “fairy dust” that will solve your problem. If you just get all that right, then you’ll get what you want. You’re the one in control.
Miracle, on the other hand, is out of your control. And how we humans hate to be out of control! Praying for a miracle means praying with open hands. You’re not clutching hard, white-knuckling it, trying to determine the outcome.
Praying for a miracle means you are trusting God. You know personally that He is good, that He is for you, and that regardless of whether you understand or not, He’s big enough and good enough to trust. He is the One you run to with your Why questions, your problems, your junk. You “cast your care” on Jesus; you lay your anxiety on Him even when you don’t know what’s coming. And you leave it there (or more commonly, keep throwing it on Him when the angst keeps coming up) whether you get what you want/need or not.
And miracle also includes cooperating with God.
Cooperating With God
In Scripture, a great majority of miracles involved people doing something to cooperate with God. Their cooperation did not “cause” the miracle! But their involvement was absolutely essential.
God told the Israelites to put the blood of a Passover lamb on the doorposts of their homes in order to be protected. (Exodus 12) Elisha told Naaman to wash in the Jordan river to be cleansed of his leprosy. (2 Kings 5) The servants had to fill the waterpots with water before it was made wine. (John 2) The blind man had to go wash in the pool of Siloam to be healed. (John 9) The early disciples had to be gathered in Jerusalem to receive the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1-2) And there are countless other examples.
So many people get hung up on one “side” or the other. Either they sit back and wait for God to do something, or they try harder believing their effort will make God do something. Neither is correct.
Cooperating with God is in itself something of a miracle. It’s one of those divine almost-mysteries, like the incarnation, or inspiration of Scripture. God’s supernatural power through the Holy Spirit, which we cannot control!, comes together with our involvement, and from that divine merging something supernatural happens. A miracle!
But remember, it’s not you or I in control. It’s not magic.
Relationship, Not Transaction
Remember the days you and your spouse spent courting. There may have been gifts, candy, flowers, and all kinds of fun stuff. And that’s all good! But when you base your relationship with your spouse on those goodies, it’s not much of a relationship.
God’s not looking for a girlfriend; He’s looking for a bride.
Are you just after the candy and the flowers? Or are you after the bridegroom’s heart? Are you desperately hungry to connect with Him, know Him, hear Him, be close to Him always and forever?
David longed for God Himself: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)
And the bride in Song of Songs: “On my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not.” (Song of Songs 3:1-2)
And Paul: “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10)
Magic is looking for a transaction. Truly praying for a miracle will make much more sense when you look at it from the perspective of relationship with God. Miracles come out of relationship.
Powerful Breakthrough Prayers
This is all very very good news! The more you understand, the better you cooperate with God, the more you can truly experience breakthrough where you need it.
I invite you to join me on a 30-day prayer journey. Our 30-day email devotional series Powerful Breakthrough Prayers will help you see more of God’s word, and provide daily application steps and prayers you can pray to experience more of what God wants for you.
Your Turn: Are you seeing ways in which you’ve been looking for magic instead of a miracle? How does this perspective affect your view of your relationship with God? Leave a comment below.
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