I grew up in a home where the default answer to my wants and desires was “no.” I’m not confident that this was always intended, but it was nevertheless my experience. It was my perception. “No” was not only the answer, it was the reason.
“Why no?” I would ask.
“Sometimes I say no just for the sake of saying no.”
Such experiences, especially when painful or repeated, and especially when occurring in our formative years, tend to establish our internal norm. It wasn’t a huge leap to project this set of experiences onto God. I assumed that God’s default response to me was also “no.”
Think what prayer must have been like for me, given this assumption about God. Prayer was an exercise of me trying to convince God to change His mind, to do what He was reluctant to do, to give what He was hesitant to provide. I was praying to a stubborn, reluctant, hesitant god. Such a god doesn’t exist. I was praying to the wind.
God isn’t like my step-dad was.
God’s default setting is actually “yes”.
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV)
Faith actually moves and finds expression from a place of assuming that God is a “rewarder.”
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)
When I’ve believed a lie about God, projecting childhood experiences onto my image of who He is and what He’s like, it can really limit the ways I relate to Him and experience Him. On the other hand, when God really reveals the truth about who He is and what He’s like, it radically changes the way I relate to Him. It transforms my prayer life.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17, NKJV)
I am coming to see that God is good. He is a rewarder. He is the source of every good and perfect gift. From this set of assumptions, from this core belief about God, prayer becomes a very different exercise. Prayer is no longer about trying to change God’s mind, trying to persuade Him or coerce Him to do what He is hesitant or reluctant to do. Instead, prayer is becoming an exercise in me embracing more and more of who God already is and desires to be in and for me. Prayer is about receiving not convincing. Prayer is about relating and connecting, not about arguing, coercing, or manipulating. Prayer is about positioning myself to receive that which He is already pouring out, embracing what He has already given, laying hold of what He has already set before me in heavenly places.
God’s default response is “Yes.”