Should I just give up asking God for things?

Question:

Hi.

I hope things are well with you. I was thinking about something. I have been suffering with a chronic stomach illness since I was 16. I prayed endlessly for healing but never received any. Now I am 20, and in addition to my disease, I now have chronic back pain. Of course, I prayed endlessly for the back pain to go away, but it didn't. These things basically took all my hobbies away from me and left me with severe depression.

Anyway, let me get to the question. I am going to pray differently now. All I'll do in my prayer is praise God, thank Him, and ask for forgiveness. Besides asking for forgiveness, I'm not going to ask for anything because now I believe if it's according to God's will, it will be done, regardless of whether I pray or not. If it's not according to His will, then it won't happen regardless of how much I beg. Isn't this why He didn't heal me?

Besides that reasoning, I quite frankly have no particular desires anymore, besides going to heaven. I don't care if I live or die, don't care if I get my degree or not, and don't care if I get married or not. In addition, I've realized that in the past, when I pray, I had an expectation that God will answer, especially considering my requests were reasonable. That expectation makes my depression worse when the request was not granted, so I'm trying to save myself here. My question is whether I'm sinning by adopting this approach. Will He get mad if I don't ask Him for stuff? I don't really want anything else, and let's be honest, clearly He doesn't intend to heal my physical problems. It's been years now.

Thank you for your reply.


Answer:

I'm sorry to hear about your chronic pain. I have some small understanding since I injured my back several years ago, while I'm not currently in constant pain, I remember the months when the pain was unrelenting. Even if it is a small pain, it becomes a constant distraction. The result is that many of the things I used to do are no longer allowed. Fortunately, I've been able to focus on the few that I can still do and I find enjoyment there.

You are not the first to ask for healing and not get the answer you wanted. "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me -- to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (II Corinthians 12:7-10). Paul was told the reason why he had to deal with his "thorn in the flesh," and he concluded that he would accept his fate. He hints that this attitude is also how he dealt with all the difficulties he faced in his life as a servant of Christ. It didn't change the pain -- it changed how he dealt with hardships.

Neither you nor I can guess why God decided you need this testing of your faith, but I do know what the result can be: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).

Just because you did not get the answer you wanted in this matter, it doesn't mean that God doesn't answer your prayers in all matters. There is a reason why God thinks it is best that you deal with these pains for now. "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him" (I John 5:14-15). Don't lose faith in your God and His love for you.