by George H. Morrison

Prayers That Are Refused
George H. Morrison
Matthew 21:22

One of the problems of the spiritual life is the problem of unanswered prayer. It is one of the earliest problems to emerge, and it lingers among the memories of childhood. Dr. Horton1 tells that when he was a child he was faced by a perplexity like this. He had a farthing in a certain drawer and he prayed that God would turn it into gold. And when he opened the drawer after the act of prayer and discovered that the coin was still a farthing, it was very staggering to his faith. At such things we are prone to smile, but to children they are intensely real. They shake the pillars of their childish universe and often cast a shadow upon God. It grows more difficult to pray for things in all the sweet simplicity of faith when God has been clearly powerless with a farthing. There are childish problems which vanish with the years, but that of prayer unanswered never vanishes. Sooner or later it comes back again, most often in the life of intercession. And that is why in the story of the Gospel, written for our spiritual help and comforting, we have instances of prayers that were refused.

There is, for example, the Gadarene demoniac who prayed that he might company with Jesus (Mark 5:18-19). One might be certain that prayer would be granted by Him who used to say "Come unto Me." It was a prayer that sprang from an adoring gratitude, for the Lord had changed him to a man again. It was a prayer that was born of conscious weakness; he dreaded the thought of being left alone. And yet that prayer, wrung from a grateful heart which felt there was only safety in the Presence, was quietly and deliberately refused. The devils prayed for entrance to the swine, and that was granted them immediately. The citizens prayed that Jesus would depart, and He bade the disciples hoist the sail and go. The only prayer which was refused that day, when the Lord was clearly in a granting spirit, was the prayer of the Gadarene demon ...

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