Question & Answer Forum

In the disappointments of life, is asking “Why?” appropriate?

Yes. If we want to benefit from our experiences, we need to learn God’s ways. Often, the cost of trials is very high. Squandering such costly opportunities is a mistake. Trials are fruitful to “them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). If the question expresses our desire to learn more of what God is doing, it’s appropriate. Even then, we must recognize that God is greater than our mind and we may not be able to understand His purpose (Job 11:7). On the other hand, He may withhold the answer in order to teach us to trust Him.

It is not appropriate, however, to question if God’s dealings are right or best or necessary. This expresses unbelief in our Father. The appropriateness of the question depends on it’s motivation.

D. Oliver

How can I know God’s will for me personally?

The New Testament records God’s will for all believers. The largest part of our life fits within these guidelines. We must approach the Bible with objective questions about His will for us. Through His Word, we should attempt to learn and do His revealed will. Devotion to Christ motivates us to want to do His will. Looking in the Bible for what is “not against His will” indicates we are going through our Christian experience looking for as many shortcuts as possible.

In addition to the Bible’s specific expressions of His will, its principles apply to our lives. Scriptural principles express God’s ways. If we really want to know our God, we will gladly allow His principles to guide us.

We also learn that God superintends the circumstances of our life. If we are honest with our own heart and are willing to do God’s will, the circumstances may be His means of guiding our decision.

We know, for instance, that God “will have all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4). But there are times when the Spirit places a special burden on our hearts for a specific sinner. This is the “mystical” side of guidance. It is a sense in the soul – always in keeping with what we know of God through His Word – that this is His will at the moment. We may be wrong in thinking we have discerned His will and therefore need to keep an open mind on this, but never doubt His ability to act in our life consistent with His revealed will.

The more we walk in fellowship with the Lord daily, the more clearly we will sense His guidance.

D. Oliver

Is wavering faith the reason for unanswered prayer (James 1:7)?

No. On occasion, God allows us to have what we request. The result is not initially the best for us (Psalm 106:15). He allows this so we will appreciate the security of His will. What He allows in our life is always only for our good -eventually, it is the best for us. The motive of such prayer was self-will, not faith. Nevertheless, God granted the prayer.

In James 1:6, 7 the tried believer asks for wisdom. Verse three makes it clear that faith is being tried. In verse five, faith is being expressed and strengthened. The enemy of faith is double mindedness, a mind for the values of this world and a mind for the values of the world to come. That’s the basic conflict James highlights throughout his book. When the thinking of the world motivates a believer’s prayer, he cannot “ask in faith.” Faith sees another and eternal world; it asks in keeping with that realm. In response to that prayer, our God gives liberally.

What hinders prayer is a mind that tries to accommodate itself to two worlds: the temporal and the eternal. Faith is not working consistently and the result is receiving nothing from God.

D. Oliver

Does God grant the believer the desires of his heart?

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:4) promises this. The promise, though, has a condition, “Delight thyself also in the Lord.”

Faith is the result of the work of God in our souls. After all, why is faith being tried (James 1:3)? God is strengthening our faith. Therefore, when we ask for the desires of our heart, if that request results from what we have learned about God through His Word and through the trials He allows for our learning, He grants it. If our requests come from our own desires for comfort, self-fulfillment, pride, or whatever, they are not of God, not of faith, and not promised an answer.

Sometimes our God waits for us to rearrange our priorities. For example, a man might view marriage as a way to help him avoid inconveniences and overcome weaknesses. Through experience with God, he learns that the eternal value of a wife is to enable him to fulfill God’s will, to learn more of God’s ways, and to become more like Christ. When that adjustment of priorities takes place, he is actually looking for a different woman than he was at first. Now he is thinking in keeping with God’s will. Now the desire of his heart is God’s desire.

D. Oliver