Please, I need your help on an issue.
We are very fanatical about football (soccer) in our country. I was involved in a discussion sometime ago with my roommate and he was saying God answered his prayer for the team he supports and that was why they were able to win, but I told him God would be partial to answer that prayer because so many fans and players of the opposition team will most likely be praying about the same thing. He replied by quoting that passage which says "God shows mercy to whomever He chooses."
I ended up convincing him otherwise. But I have looked at it again and wonder if I was wrong. My reason for this thought is that in a situation where one is looking for a job that many people have applied for, one is encouraged to work hard and pray about it so that God can intervene. So I'm wondering now how this is different from that of football because if God has to answer my prayer then somebody has to fail the job test or interview. I have seen and heard of situations where the more intelligent and hardworking applicants don't make it, which means one can get the job in the midst of more intelligent and hardworking applicants.
I need your help for better understanding so that I can explain better to people.
There is a huge difference between teams winning a game and a person gaining the means to support his family. The later places you in a better position to carry out the command: "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). Who wins a game has nothing to do with God's plans.
When Jesus said, "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:13-14), Jesus was not saying he is at each person's command. As you noted that would place God between conflicting requests. The key is the phrase, "in my name." It means asking for things that Jesus authorizes. That is why the next verse says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). If you asked for things you wanted and got whatever you wanted, that would glorify you. But if we ask for things that God approves, then that gives God the glory.
As James points out "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Asking for a sports team to win is solely about personal pleasure about things that are temporary and do not matter. It has nothing to do with God, other than trying to treat God as a cosmic vending machine.
Yes, if there are limited jobs available and several Christians apply for the same job, only one may end up with the job. But we also understand that God will make even the hardships in this world work out for the best for His people. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). We might not see the reasons immediately, but we have a limited viewpoint. We know that God works on His people's behalf.
Thank you very much. I get the point now. I will read it through some more times so that I can properly absorb it.