“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20,21).

WHEN WE PRAY, WE BELIEVE WE ARE PRAYING TO A GOD POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DO EVEN MORE THAN WE ASK HIM TO DO. It is extremely comforting to know that God can take our feeble, shortsighted prayers and answer them in ways that give us more than the pitifully little things we thought to ask for. He is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”

What we need to understand, however, is that whenever there is any discrepancy between what we asked for and what God provided, what God provided is always better. Theoretically, we know that God can bless us with more than we asked, but sometimes we look at God’s answer to our prayers and say, “This is less than I asked for.” What I am saying to you is: that is never true.

Admittedly, it can be hard to see how what God provides is better than what we wanted, but the problem here has to do with our vision and not with God’s gift. For one thing, it takes faith, trust, and confidence to believe that, whether we can understand it or not, God’s way is always better. We must choose to believe that He knows what He is doing. But second, seeing the goodness of what God provides requires looking at more than the present moment. We may not be able to see it right now, but later on, hindsight will surely show us that God’s gift was, in fact, better.

Paul’s prayer for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh” is a good example. God’s answer was, in effect, “No, Paul, it will be better for you to continue to deal with it.” And to his credit, Paul not only accepted that answer; he embraced it. “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Our Father is benevolently inclined toward us, a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The only time we ever need to worry about God harming us is when we’re in rebellion against Him. But if we humbly respond to Him in the obedience of faith, we can rest assured that the answer to our prayers will never be anything less than good. And very often, the answer will go beyond the good to the better . . . and even to the best.

“God will either give you what you ask, or something far better” (Robert Murray McCheyne).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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