Write to Joyce
Are you praying for a blessing in life? Does it seem too impossible to be answered? Why do some prayers take so long to be answered, while some get answered instantly? How do you pray a prayer that makes miracles come true?
Why Can’t We Receive Our Blessings?
What keeps a person from
receiving a gift,
a very precious
and significant gift?
Given the chance to accept such a gift,
a brand new car perhaps
a beautiful house and lot
a precious jewel,
how many among us would refuse
something totally for free?
Following are some of the things I thought would prevent us from receiving the blessings/ gifts the good Lord has meant us all to receive:
1. Hostility/ doubt towards the giver
It doesn’t matter sometimes how beautiful or precious a gift is as long as we do not approve of the giver. Who would ever receive a gift from someone she doesn’t trust? From someone with a vested interest perhaps? From someone scary? From a monster?!
We are unable to receive many gifts because we do not approve of the giver.
2. Feeling of unworthiness
Even if we believe in the giver, we oftentimes refuse our gifts because we do not believe ourselves worthy of them. We think we do not deserve a new car because we have not studied well, we do not deserve to be forgiven because we have been so bad in the past.
But have you ever considered what the giver is giving the gift for? Maybe it has nothing to do after all with what we did or did not do. Maybe it is being given just because the giver would be happy to see us receive the blessing. Maybe it is because of his generosity. Maybe it is because of his unconditional love.
3. So much focus on other things as not to see what is being given
How do you receive a gift you do not even notice? If we are so busy doing something else, talking to this and that person, taking care of this and that, worrying, fretting, anxiously thinking of our fears, would we ever have the time to even think someone’s waiting for us, intending to give us something beautiful?
4. Lack of confidence to be able to use the gift
If we do not know how to operate a personal computer, not even having the slightest interest to learn, would it matter at all that someone’s giving us a top of the line PC, complete with accessories, software and technical assistance?
If we think we’d have no use nor skill for something, we may refuse something being given us.
5. Ignorance on the nature and worth of what is being given
Our ignorance on the nature of the gift being given us hinders us from receiving it with open arms. Instead of gratitude, we have doubt. Instead of excitement, we have apathy and we don’t care whether we receive the blessing or not at all.
6. Ignorance of one’s needs that can be fully satisfied by the gift
If we do not know ourselves and our needs, we may not be aware of what good the blessing before us is going to give us. An abundant feast may have been set before our eyes, yet if we do not even know we’re hungry, it wouldn’t satisfy us a bit. We may even look for other things we think we need.
7. Comparing one’s gift to the gift given to others
How many times have we refused our blessings because we deem it lesser than the gifts we saw given to other people? Our blessings may be the best for us, yet oftentimes, we look at bigger packages given to another. We know not that inside the small package is a precious jewel waiting to be revealed if only we’d have opened our hands to receive it rather than whine about how small it is compared to what our neighbors have received.
Have you found your blessings yet? Have you prayed and received not the answer? Reflect for a moment and consider, you may have refused the very blessings God has placed before you all the while.
If There Is Abundance Around, Why Can’t We Receive It?
We’ve heard how life seemed so abundant in all things, in sunshine, in water, in the air we breathe. Everything is there for the taking, and the only thing left for us is to claim them. Yet how is it the many of us still lack in many things, particularly in material wealth? If the earth never lacks in water, why is it that we never seem to have even a small drop of it at times?
If water could be compared to the blessings we receive, and if the said blessings should be in abundance, we ask why some people receive more of it than some of us do. And so we look at lakes far wider than the rest, or oceans far deeper and clearer, or waterfalls stronger and more majestic than many. And then we look at creeks and small trickles of water, of canals that lay stagnant and could not deliver such a powerful flow.
Can we now see it better? Can we now see how water (life’s blessings) can be so abundant, and how at the same time, we seem to have so little of it?
If we want to have more of it, like a big lake perhaps, it’s up to us to dig more deeper and to ALLOW more of the water to pass through, to flow and to come in. The bigger the space we carve, the more water there will be, the more share of blessings we can have in the infinite abundance of life!
Why God Doesn’t Give Us Our Desires
“You must rest, O soul, to receive your heart’s desire.”
-Streams in the Desert
Sometimes, God doesn’t give us the things we want
because He knows the things we truly desire,
desires that we may not even be aware of
because we do not truly know ourselves.
We cannot truly know ourselves unless we really choose to, and we cannot discover our true desires
unless we let go of the things we think we want,
things borne not out of love,
but out of fear, anger or other things
other than what our heart is yearning for.
Had God immediately given us our requests,
our joy wouldn’t have had a chance to be complete
because we would have settled for the “Second best”.
But God allows us instead these momentary frustrations
so that we can discover little by little
what it is we truly desire.
When I Asked For a ROSE
It was January 31, 2000, and Valentines Day seem so near. I was praying to God when I suddenly felt so sad. I felt so lonely. I knew that dreaded day would soon be coming when girls would soon be receiving flowers from their special someone, when they would all go about proudly carrying those flowers, certain of the sincere love of those that offered them. I haven’t got any lover though. So no flowers for me, no bouquet, not even a single red rose.
It was a bit embarrassing, but I knew the Lord knew my heart and there was no point in hiding anything. I remained true to my feelings, and I asked God for something I’ve never asked before. I’ve asked Him to send me a rose, just one. I don’t know how it could possibly happen, but I prayed, like a daughter asking something from her dear father. I prayed for a single red rose. I prayed for a small expression of love, a small sign that I am loved, and that I am special as well.
It was a heartfelt prayer, though I never really thought much of it the day after. I guess it was enough for me that I uttered it, and that the Lord heard me. It was already upon God’s hands whether to grant the prayer of silly girls like me.
So I went through my activities for the day, attending a seminar in the morning, and meeting my bestfriend afterwards in the afternoon. My friend and I strolled at a mall for a while, and then proceeded to pick up our materials for our upcoming training in Puerto Galera. After picking them up, we tried to find a ride back home. We found it difficult though, and found ourselves trying to find alternative routes.
On our way to EDSA, we chanced upon the Manila Seedling Bank, which we had seen many times before from the outside. A bit curious, we decided to look inside. We were amazed to see such a variety of plants wherever we proceeded. We certainly didn’t expect so much there. But it turned out there was even an exhibit at that time from many skilled participants all over the country!
There were plants of all shapes and sizes, of common and rare varieties. There were beautiful flowers everywhere: gerberas, orchids, sunflowers, yellowbells, roses of all colors! Their scent enthralls the senses, their soft and vividly colored petals can’t help but delight the eyes. The presentation was just terrific, and it really felt like we’ve just entered an enchanted garden, far from the harsh activities of men, protected by fairies and elves that guard them night and day.
And suddenly, right in the middle of that garden, I remembered my prayer. My prayer for a single red rose. And I realized, right there and then, that that prayer had been granted far beyond how I expected it to be answered. For right before my eyes lay not just a flower, not just a rose, not just a red rose, not just a bouquet of roses, but hundreds of flowers flourishing, blooming, glorifying the God that answers all of our prayers.
I’ve only asked for a small emblem of care, but what I received is a mountain of flowers testifying God’s immeasurable love for me. I felt so happy. I felt so special and blessed. I believed then that no other girl was able to receive as much that Valentine’s Day. No other man could have given as much. But the One who did was the One who loved me, the One who loved me enough to answer that silly prayer for a single lonely rose.
Who Are Blessed?
I’ve often heard people saying “I’m truly blessed”, or “God blessed me.”
Does that mean other people weren’t blessed?
If God causes the sun to shine both on the good and the bad, will He withhold His blessings to some and give it only to a few?
Who are we to say that some people are less fortunate than us?
I believe that God pours His blessings upon us all… always.
And maybe, when we say that we are blessed, it is only like saying we have finally found the faith to receive what God is giving us. Finally, we have recognized God’s goodness, and for that, we say that we are blessed!
The Secret to Mountain-moving FAITH!
A child is having a seizure, he foams at the mouth and gnashes his teeth, he is thrown to the ground and lays as rigid as a rock. Meanwhile, the disciples of Jesus gather around him, praying, laying their hands and shouting words of affirmation, trying to cast away the evil spirit that has possessed the child. Still, the child rolled around, foaming at the mouth. The disciples couldn’t drive away the malady. After all the miracles they’ve seen through Jesus, after all the miracles they have performed themselves, they stand defeated and confused.
Just then, Jesus arrives and is quickly approached by the boy’s father, asking for the healing of his son. Jesus asks the man if he believes. The man answers, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Jesus commanded the spirit to depart, and at once, the boy was healed!
After the crowd had left, the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t drive out the evil spirit. Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”
But wasn’t it prayer that the disciples uttered when they tried to heal the boy? Why didn’t it work? Did they not have enough faith? And why was their faith lacking? What prayer finally drove out the spirit away? It isn’t just the prayer of Jesus, but the prayer of the father’s child when he proclaimed that he believed!
But what’s the difference between his prayer and the prayer of the disciples? Shouldn’t the disciples know more of faith than the suffering father did?
The disciples may have had more experience in their work, but when they came across a difficult case, they themselves started to doubt. And when their hearts were gripped by fear and worry, there was nothing within them that urged them to persevere in their work. They lost their faith, and then they lost their hope, and they had nothing more.
But the father of the child, though he admittedly lacked also in faith had something more. Something that urged him to persevere. Something that urged him to come to Jesus and to try once again. He couldn’t just give up. He couldn’t bear the sight of his very own son suffering that way. No, he will do everything he can so he can save the boy he loves so much.
And alas, through the hands of Jesus, his son had been saved. Through the hands of Jesus, his prayer had been answered. His was the only prayer that prevailed, the only one who was able to overcome his unbelief. And what prompted him? It was his unquestionable love for his son. It was love.
If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing… Love never fails. (1 Cor. 13:1-2,8)
Secret to Answered Prayers
What is the secret to answered prayers? Will God answer my prayers?
The Bible has a very simple guide on how we should pray:
Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not… ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea, it shall be done. – Matthew 21:21
And when we look back at all the prayers that Jesus had answered, honesty and simplicity in those prayers were very much evident.
And behold, there came a leper and worshiped him saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he stretched forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou made clean. And straightway his leprosy was cleansed. -Matthew 8:2-3
And as Jesus passed by from thence, two blind men followed him, crying out, saying Have mercy on us, thou son of David. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it done unto you. And their eyes were opened. – Matthew 9:27-30
Such simple and straightforward prayers, and yet these prayers were often the prayers that Jesus praised for their faith.
Why then do some of our prayers seem to remain unanswered until now? What have we failed to understand? What is the kind of prayer God always hears and answers?
I’ve listed THREE easy guidelines that have helped me tremendously in my own prayers. They’re so simple and easy to remember, and they have guided me through much of my prayer life.
Three things we need in our prayers:
1. To KNOW what we want
What is it that we truly want? Are the concerns that escape our lips in prayer truly the things we desire? We are to remember that prayer isn’t about mere words no matter how beautiful or how well composed they seem to be. Prayer is that which comes from our hearts, the things we lift up towards heaven when we close our eyes and kneel before the One who hears the voice within us. For all we know, the things we say are just the opposite of the things we really want. For all we know, we have not yet come to discover the things we truly desire.
Do we still remember the blind man whom Jesus healed?
And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
Why did Jesus ask him what he desires? Wasn’t it already obvious that he needed to see? What I can say is this: the prayer, the real desire of the blind man should come from him himself. Jesus wanted him to realize the desire that lies in his own heart, to claim it, to proclaim it, and to believe that it can be done. Because this is the way to authentic prayer. God does not suddenly appear before us and insist on the things we obviously need. What would you say if He suddenly comes to you and says, “Well John, I think you need a new job so you can buy a new shirt because you really look so shabby already, and I can’t bear the sight of you!” Well, won’t it be encroaching upon our God-given will, on the honor He has bestowed upon us as His children? On the right to receive whatever gift we want, not the gifts thrust upon us by force?
We need to seek inside our hearts those desires that have slept there for so long. Unless we do, we do not know what to pray for in the first place, and we end up sending a bunch of mixed and weak signals that do not really know the things it asks for. Have you ever heard someone talking on the phone over a choppy line? Well, was it easy to understand what he was saying? If the person was asking you for something, would you have understood what it was? And having never understood what it was in the first place, would you have given what the person was asking for?
We must uncover the prayers our souls are crying for. And in order to do so, we must learn how to remove all the impurities that conceal our true desires. Know what you want. Be brave enough to face yourself in the mirror and see what it is you’re lacking. Do not content yourself with the outer layer of your problems. Seek the core of your difficulties. It is only then that you will know you are blind. It is only then that you will know you needed to see!
2. To BELIEVE that we can get what we want and that God can answer our prayers.
What is the point of praying if we do not believe our prayers will be answered? What is the point of praying if we do not believe someone hears them and that the one who does can answer them? You might have noticed how people often simply murmur their wishes, hoping some genie might pass by and grant them their wishes if he so desires. Not a very empowering concept, isn’t it?
See if you can relate to the following:
a. We think we do not deserve what we pray for
Having a realistic assessment of ourselves is good. But insisting on our unworthiness as a cause to believe that our prayers should not be granted is another. Remember that God does not force us to receive anything, however wonderful or generous His blessings are. If we do not wish to accept his answers, we are the ones closing our doors and shutting out every good thing God sends out to us.
b. We think God is not good or generous enough to grant us our desires
We may have an idea of a God who never even smiles, a God who gives out all these commandments for us to follow and who watches our every move so He can punish us if we violate any of those laws He has given us. If this is how you see God, it is no wonder that you do not believe your prayers will be answered. In fact, if this is how you see Him, you may never even have the guts to pray to Him at all!
Believe that God is good. Believe that God loves you so much He gave up His glory to be just like you in order to save you. Believe that if He can grant you His One and Only Son, He will not withhold anything from you.
3. To fervently and consistently DESIRE the thing we want.
Sometimes we know what we want, and we believe that God can grant them. But when some sort of delay comes, we start doubting our prayers, and subsequently, God’s generosity to grant what we ask for. A persistent prayer proves how far our faith can go. It proves how much we believe in the things we pray for.
When we fail to pray fervently, the following happens and jeopardizes our prayers:
a. We settle for the initial results we get instead of pursuing what it is we really want
Sometimes, we recognize some things as answers to our prayers. It may be a job, which pays enough, but is not as rewarding as we envisioned it to be; or a boyfriend who seems okay, but one with whom we do not feel truly happy with. Though these answers seem good enough, they do not fully satisfy our desires. And we settle for these things instead of pursuing the true essence of our prayers.
These things may have been answers indeed, but only answers to the broken prayers we prayed when we have not yet uncovered our true desires. They have been sent according to our faith, but that doesn’t mean they are the true answers to our deepest desires. They may only be there to help us dig deeper, to ask ourselves what it is we truly want. If they can satisfy us now, then well and good. But if not, if we can’t pray a prayer of thanksgiving with a heart overflowing in joy and gratitude, then let go of these things. These are not yet the answers you are searching for.
b. We change our minds even before we get the desired results
Sometimes it happens that even before the answer to our prayer arrives, we retract our prayers and ask for something else instead. And after doing so, we change our minds again and ask for another thing, and then another thing, and then another. How do you expect then to get the answers you want? If you keep on changing your mind, you only prove you do not know what it is you really want, and that’s why you cannot persist in your prayers. You just keep on jumping from one prayer to another hoping that you may finally hit the jackpot by randomly guessing on what you really desire to have.
Consider the blind man whom Jesus healed:
And it came to pass, as he drew nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging: and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. And they told him that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they that went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried out the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God. – Luke 18:35-43
Though the people rebuked him, though they urged him to keep quiet, the man continued to cry out to Jesus. He knew his need and he believed that Jesus can grant him the answer to his prayer.
Unlike the blind man, some people nowadays listen more to the people rebuking them than to the inner desires in their hearts. Often, we believe these people, and we allow them to make us believe our prayers can’t be or don’t deserve to be answered.
Don’t listen to these people. Listen to your heart, because somewhere in there, God had planted a sacred seed of desire that will bring you to your happiness, to the destiny He has planned for you all along, if only you will believe.
So go ahead and pray. Pray your deepest, innermost desires. For such is the secret to answered prayers. Believe that God listens and God longs for you to have your prayers answered. Pray fervently, do not give up. For as you might have observed, Jesus never turned down anyone who’s ever asked Him for anything; NOT ONE.
One Year Devotional Book
“Your companion for healing."