About these "unanswered prayers", Garth...

I fell in love with Garth Brooks when I was a senior in high school.  Well, his music anyway.  Maybe it was some sort of premonition I had because I was going to end up in the South.  (You know, because all southerners listen to country, right?)  My love for pop country has always been rooted in this man's songs.  (Excepting that whole Chris Gaines thing.  What was that about?)

Just like smell is supposed to be the sense the evokes the strongest memories, songs tend to do the same for me.  When I hear a song, I'm instantly transported back to the time with which it is associated.  For instance, when I hear Garth's "The River", I'm reminded of the weekend I went to Elijay, Georgia with some hallmates my freshman year of college because that's when I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I would end up marrying my dear husband.  (If memory serves me correctly, he was in Sylvania babysitting his cousins at the time, fielding lots of phone calls from a lovesick Jennie.) 

Garth's made many other songs, lots of them brilliant (not unlike "The River").  In fact, his greatest hits cd is on my list of all-time favorites, and is one that Sam and I used to listen to regularly in our dating days and on our early road trips to and from Maryland.

I have always liked listening to the song "Unanswered Prayers", but at the same time it has always made me a little uneasy.  (Hey, look, four paragraphs into it and I'm finally reaching the actual point of this post.)  I think that most of us can relate to the message in a what-might-have-been kind of way, but here's my beef, Garth - God always answers prayers.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the song, you can listen to it here.

The chorus goes like this:
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talking to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's semantics.  Either way, I don't feel comfortable with the insinuation that God ever deliberately doesn't answer prayers.  (I also have a little problem with irreverence of calling our Heavenly Father "the man upstairs", but I won't get any more nit-picky than I am already being.)

Whether it goes the way we want it to or not, God answered.  Sometimes it's not the answer we wanted in the timetable we set, but that is the will of God.  However minor an example this is, I'm reminded of the time I prayed for patience, expected it overnight, and instead, was granted a job babysitting for the summer.  Learning patience is a long, slow process.  And you do have to learn it.  Hey, lookie there, God taught me that!  Prayer answered.  (Well, I believe he's still teaching me.  It's a very long, slow process.)  On Easter Sunday, our pastor said something in his sermon that stuck with me, "When it seems like God is late, he's right on time." 

None of us know what our futures hold, nor can we truly understand the master plan that is the will of God.  It might not be possible to understand why God answers our prayers the way he does, but the point remains -  

God hears and answers every prayer.

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

~The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier

It is up to us to acknowledge God's work in our lives.  Sometime it's not obvious, but it is there.  And it is purposeful.  The best and only way to recognize it is to stay in close communication with Him.

Remember that even Jesus prayed to God, " nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."  Luke 22:42

So, sorry, Garth.  I would have to respectfully disagree.  Sometimes I thank God, but it's for his ever-appropriate, however mysterious answers to my prayers.


Debbie said...

Very beautifully expressed, Jennie.
I needed that little timely reminder right now, in fact.

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