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Genie in the Bottle

By Linda G. Gallia

I received a prayer message from a friend the other day. It was one of those sweet emails meant to give encouragement and make people feel good. It said:



This prayer is so powerful. Pass this prayer to 12 people including me

I sat for a few moments, gathering my thoughts about why this particular little prayer upset me. My concern is that prayers like these might cause us to believe things about God that will actually hurt us. When people ask God to take away all their worries, illnesses etc. and it doesn't happen, they often loose faith in God. I realized I could not pass this prayer on because it could cause someone to loose faith if they think God will wave a magic wand and make their life perfect without any care, worries, trials, illnesses etc.


God never tells us He will take away all our worries, illnesses etc. but He does tell us he will always be with us and help us through them. God tells us he will never forsake us or leave us. He doesn't promise we will not have trials, illnesses etc. in our life.


Sometimes people are the ones who are asking God for the wrong things and then when they think He doesn't deliver, they decide God doesn't exist and/or God has left them.  People seem to want to put God in a little box and bring Him out whenever they have a problem and expect Him to take it all away. I've found God doesn't work that way. God helps us through things in our life for our own benefit in order to become more like Jesus. Jesus had lots of blessings and gave lots of blessings but he also had trials and troubles along the way which even ended in His death for us. 


The funny, almost humorous thing about all of this is that the bible tells us the opposite of what we seem to want to hear. James tells us (James 1:2-5) we are supposed to be happy when we encounter difficulties and frustrations in life. James tells us we are to “count it all joy”! Wow! That’s quite different from what we like to hear and what we often pray for. Why does James tell us to be happy about it? Because trials produce patience, and patience produces wisdom. How often do we pray for wisdom? I’m sure sometimes we do, but do we understand how we are going to acquire it? Frequently wisdom comes from trials and experience.

Peter also spoke about the subject of trials in life. Peter tells us to “greatly rejoice” about various trials and difficulties in life. Why would anyone be happy about these things? I certainly don’t like it when another trial comes along and now I have to alter my life in order to deal with it. Sometimes we create the circumstances ourselves and then have to deal with them. I try to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. Don’t most people? I don’t believe Peter and James are speaking only of trials that have to do with religion or church. It’s all about life and how to see life through God’s eyes. People have trouble seeing anything through God’s eyes. (1 Sam 16:7, Psa 94:7-24) David and Samuel had to learn this lesson for the same reason all people have to learn it. Peter tells us the end result is our salvation.


Lot's of scriptures tell us God will be with us if we trust Him and are faithful to Him. It's a two way street.  We have to meet Him half way. He won’t do it all for us because it isn’t good for us. (Eph 4) The only way we can win is by building endurance through practice of running the race. Remember the old saying “no pain, no gain”? The Godly life requires endurance so that we can ignore the things that drag us down and learn to see things from God’s perspective. Just as children who have to learn to see things from an adult perspective and appreciate the correction their parents give them. Parents who really love their children don’t allow them to coast along without any correction and they also do not shield them from every difficulty. God realizes, as our heavenly Father that these things produce the character He is trying to produce in us. It is for our “profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness”. (Heb 12:10)


This is what we should be passing along in this country. We have gotten too soft and too fat and want God and the government to attend to us and promise to take care of us no matter what we do or what we do not do. People are afraid to offend other people with the truth.


What we really need to be doing is praying like David did in Psa 141: 4-10. David knew he had to meet God halfway and he couldn’t do it on his own. David accepted it wasn’t always going to be easy and that there are evil people in the world who will try to drag us down with them or at least walk over us. David didn’t always pray for his enemies to be blessed either. David prayed they would be caught in their own traps and that God would protect him from their evil behavior.


Even Jesus, in “the Lord’s Prayer”, prayed a much different prayer than the prayer I received in my email and was asked to pass along. (Matt 6:9-13) Difficulties in life give us something else as well. It gives us the opportunity to love other people and help them. (Ecc 4:8-12) Isn’t that the “golden rule”?


The prayer we need to make is that God will be with us no matter what comes our way. That He will protect us, guide us, provide for us and help us to become more like our savior Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean God will not bless us and give us good things but we shouldn’t expect Him to be our “genie in a bottle”.




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