What does it all mean when prayers go unanswered? When hurts linger and God seems to be doing nothing in response to our faith? Often God is loving us more supremely at that time than ever before. The Word says, “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Hebrews 12:6, NKJV). A chastening of love takes precedence over every act of faith, prayer or promise. What I see as hurting me could be his loving me. It could be his gentle hand spanking me out of my stubbornness and pride.

We place more emphasis on the power of our prayers than we do on getting his power into us. We want to figure out God so we can read him like a book. We don’t want to be surprised or bewildered; and when things happen contrary to our concept of God, we say, “This can’t be God. That’s not the way he works.”

We are so busy working on God that we forget he is trying to work on us. This is what this life is all about, God working on us and trying to remake us into vessels of glory. We are so busy praying to change things that we have little time to allow prayer to change us. God has not put prayer and faith in our hands as if they were two secret tools by which a select group of ‘experts’ learn to pry something out of him. God said he is more willing to give than we are to receive. God is not some eternal, divine tease. He has not surrounded himself in riddles for men to unravel, as if to say, “Only the most clever will get the prize.”

We are so mixed up on this matter of prayer and faith. We think of faith as a way to corner God on his promises. We shout, “Lord, you can’t go back on your promise. I want what is coming to me. You must do it, or else your Word is not true.”

This is why we miss the true meaning of prayer and faith. We see God only as the giver and us as the receivers, but prayer and faith are the avenues by which we become givers to God. They are not to be used as ways to get things from God but rather as a way to offer him our hearts, minds and lives to be transformed as he wills.