God is not a genie

God is all powerful and can fix our problems. A genie is a fictional magical being that carries out the orders of a person.  God wants us to pray at all times but His response seems unpredictable while a genie grants three wishes.  Many people, Christians and non-Christians, want God to behave as a genie. We pray fervently with faith, expecting Him to miraculously solve our problems. If He fails to respond, we may wait longer in faith. But sometimes God never seems to reply, especially in the way we asked or wanted. If we expect God to respond like a genie, our faith can easily be shipwrecked.

Unfortunately the image that I have been having of God was closer to a genie than the Biblical picture of God. I have been going through difficult circumstances in my life. It feels like family, church and society are unable or unwilling to help. God seems to be silent. I waited patiently for the Lord for years but He doesn’t seem to take me out of the miry clay and set my feet on the rock. My soul is cast down within me. I am unable to blog anymore. Life itself is a challenge. I have been frustrated with God. But I am learning that He is not a genie but a parent who disciplines His child.

If a parent always shields a child from problems, it will struggle to become a mature adult. God our eternal Father is interested in our development and maturity. So He allows storms to hit us. In fact the Bible says “the Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges” (Heb 12:6 AMP) and also “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful” (Heb 12:11 ISV).  This is no genie! If God answered our prayers just the way we wanted, we will pray away all His discipline and remain immature. This is one of the many reasons why God doesn’t seem to answer our prayers however fervent or critical they may seem to be.

If you had pictured God as a genie magically changing circumstances, just as I did, it is time to repent. Instead of sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves, we are commanded to “strengthen our tired arms and our weak knees, and straighten the paths of our life, so that our lameness may not become worse, but instead may be healed.” (Heb 12:12,13 ISV). God does not offer a magical way out but we are exhorted to exert ourselves and take courage and the effort will be worthwhile “for those who have been trained by it, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace” (Heb 12:11b ISV).



Filed under Christian living

4 responses to “God is not a genie

  1. GE

    Sorry, I did not see your request for elaboration, Suniemi. I expect I meant the prosperity gospel, but perhaps also slightly less extreme preaching which nevertheless concentrates on fulfilling the perceived needs or ambitions of the believer (?) rather than glorifying God. There is much misunderstanding of what Jesus meant when he seemed to promise that if believers asked for anything ‘in his name’ their prayer would be answered (positively!). Linked in with this is the LEF thinking on so-called ‘demons’ and ‘healing’, which is erroneous on many levels (I have just finished editing a paper on spiritual warfare). Also the LEF idea that people can, as the result of personal prayer, receive ‘the Lord’s guidance’ for other people, or that such ‘guidance’ is provided or confirmed by random Scripture verses (which may seem appropriate to a situation) suddenly appearing, or ‘being given’.

    There are abiding principles which run throughout Scripture, and which we need to discern/be taught, and without the understanding of which we cannot know how to ‘pray aright’ or discern the Lord’s guidance. We need to be able to, as it were, ‘hang’ our prayer lives on the structure built by these principles, and test any guidance we may feel we have against them. I can confidently say that I have never come across either the discerning or preaching of such essential biblical doctrine and principles in LEF.

    In response to your comment, I think we can often see retrospectively why God did not answer our prayer in a positive way at the time. Sometimes we realise that our prayer was not necessarily in line with the generally revealed Will of God, though in itself it did not seem unreasonable. Sometimes our prayer might have been plainly unreasonable – expecting God to rescue us from situations which we have brought about through our own conscious disobedience and wilfulness, when He clearly warns us that we must expect to ‘reap what we sow’. Notwithstanding, I have sometimes been amazed at God’s undeserved mercy towards me even in such matters. We can really only pray with confidence for a positive answer concerning those things that God himself has promised (for example, that Jesus will come again and take his sheep to himself is a definite promise. We have also been promised that one day we shall be perfect as he is perfect. We have also been promised that Satan is a foe already defeated, whose earthly power is even now limited; these are some amongst other certainties in the Bible. One wonderful promise is what Jesus personally told believers, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’!). However it is possible to take others of God’s promises out of context and interpret literally what was not intended to be literal, or apply them to those for whom they were not meant; again, delving into the Bible for undergirding principles will prevent that sort of misunderstanding which leads to presumptuous prayer and hence disappointment.

    I think that what you write about biblical ‘discipline’ is very important, but you are not describing the sort of discipline which LEF tries to impose on its followers, which is fleshly, unhealthy, and largely unbiblical. Subjecting oneself to that kind of ‘discipline’, disciplinary processes devised and promoted by man through biblical misinterpretation (sometimes for less than noble purposes), can prolong spiritual immaturity, and this is plainly the case with LEF followers. Artificially promoted and prolonged praying, unbiblical ‘fasting’, and obligatory attendance at meetings are the equivalents of much of what false religions are about. For ‘May Retreat’ read ‘Mecca’. For ‘fasting prayer’ read ‘Ramadan’. For repeated public bemoaning of sins committed read ‘hair shirts, flagellation’.

    We need the discipline that comes from above, directly communicated to us through the Word of God, interpreted b the Holy Spirit, untampered with and unadapted by flawed, sin-damaged human thinking.

    Hebrews 12: 1-13 is a remarkable passage, isn’t it? I know I am unable to act on its advice in my own strength, even though I believe every word of it to be true and immutable. The faith to act on it cannot come from me. We read that Jesus is both the ‘author and the finisher’ of our faith. We cannot generate any kind of biblical faith ourselves, or even receive it in advance of requirement, like an insurance policy. All of God, nothing of me……

    This evening, just before our Lord’s Supper celebration, our preacher explained that Christians who feel themselves to be weak and sinful should not avoid taking part. Rather the reverse. That taking the bread and wine ‘worthily’ does not mean that we ourselves are in a ‘worthy ‘ state to receive it, but that the Lord’s Supper itself is worthy to be received by even the weakest believer, because by it we are strengthened. Christians are a collection of ‘hands hanging down’, ‘feeble-kneed’ people, not triumphant ‘spiritual giants’. Thank God that all our hope and strength is in him and will always be in him until we meet him face to face.

    • Thank you for your reply. Joshua Daniel allegedly had a sack cloth (a variant of the hair shirt) and would threaten that he will be forced to wear it to lament the spiritual decline of LEF. I wonder if he ever wore it!
      Regarding the Lord’s Supper, I am reminded with sadness how it happened in LEF. The Lord’s Supper was a rare occasion, usually Good Friday and New Year. The main service will get over and the majority will leave. Only the “spiritual” people will remain and take part in a solemn service. On New Year midnight, when the Lord’s Supper was taking place, some who left after the first service will be lighting fireworks outside!

  2. GE

    Thank you for sharing this. A timely antidote to much of what is preached today…….

    • Thanks. Could you elaborate a little on what exactly you are referring to about today’s preaching? Is it the prosperity gospel, etc or that we don’t get answers to prayer due to sin, etc? It’s impossible to generally know why God didn’t answer our prayer but while pondering on the idea “God is not a genie” somehow discipline stuck out of the Bible the most.

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