06 October 2010

Losing the Genie Mentality

Ok, so I have been reading this book on prayer the last few weeks, as our Sunday School class has been going through it (A Praying Life by Paul Miller). The book has been very interesting and helpful, but this posting is not a book review (sorry - suffice it to say for now that I do like it so far). As I have been re-learning to pray, I have noticed a deep down thought pattern emerging in my prayers. At first, it wasn't something that even phased me or was really noticed, but the more I started thinking about it, the more I realized not only that is was a totally wrong way to think, but that it was a pattern that came directly from my exposure to various modern "Genie" type stories. Let me see if I can properly explain this.

I am pretty sure most everyone has seen or read a story like I am thinking, mainly those twisted tales from people like Stephen King and the like. An example goes like this - someone is in hard times, and runs into a Genie (and it doesn't have to be a Genie, it could simply be someone who has the power and authority to grant someone's desire) and grants them a wish. Yet the Genie twists things and the result is not as the person expected at all. The results are fulfilled, but only by way of a terrible catastrophe in the person's life. Time and time again, this type of idea permeates movies and I guess has become a common thought pattern sub-consciously; spilling over into "real life" and prayer.

So, now, having this theme embedded in my sub-conscious, I sit to pray. Now, just to make sure God doesn't trick me by giving me my prayer request by some other disastrous means, I find myself explaining my desires in detail - more detail than I should. Let me give a real extreme example of this: "Father, please help me with my finances - but please do not kill one of my family members in order to provide the finances through an insurance claim."  Yes, I know that is pretty bad, extreme, sad, whatever; but unfortunately, that is the kind of thing that pops up.

This type of thought has assumed God is there trying to trick us like the wish giver on the movies. While it is often true that God can give us what we desire in a way we didn't necessarily expect it, to automatically think of that fulfillment as coming in such a twisted, morbid way is just not a good way to think of God. But that is what I find lurking deep down inside that needs purged.

If you then, who are 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! (Matt. 7:11)
We are not as good as God, yet we give to our kids out of love and in looking out for their well-being. And while sometimes we even may be silly and trick them, we can't look at our heavenly Father as being such a trickster.

What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; (Lk 11:11)

Yes, God may answer our prayers in a totally different way than we had hoped or expected, but my issue is more in thinking from the get-go that God is there, ready-and-waiting to trick us or bring more and more pain and trouble to us. This shows a lack of trust and an unwarranted, unbiblical fear of our Father, rather than trusting our loving Father to do what is best for us.

This wasn't directly even a topic referenced in the book (at least not up to where I have read yet), but many of the steps in the book have caused me to stop and re-examine my view of the Father - and this is what I have found lurking down deep.

Has anyone else experienced any thing like this, or is it just me? Has anyone else had any wrong thoughts on God that have influenced your prayer life in a bad way, and how did you overcome that?