Ruffled Feathers and Unanswered Prayers

MoltingOwlWhy does God so frequently let us go through the things from which we’ve prayed to be spared? It has a lot to do, I suspect, with the fact that God is in the discipleship business, not the insurance business. What we want is comfort and security, to remain unruffled. What God wants is to change us into something better, something that looks a lot more like Him, and through us to change the world to something that looks a lot more like heaven.

That requires a lot of ruffling.

So is it a sin to want to avoid trials? No. Even Jesus prayed before his crucifixion, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” But notice, he added, “Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Why? Because he knew that, no matter how hard it might be to follow, the Father’s path was always the right one.

So we simply have to gut it out? No. Jesus promised us something infinitely more valuable than mere external security. He promised us internal security. He promised that God would send an “advocate” (counselor), a “comforter” (feather smoother) in the form of the Holy Spirit, to walk beside us and live within us (John 14:16).

The result? While some of our prayers are answered externally, through human or divine intervention, most are answered internally, through his presence within us.

I frequently pray, in accordance with Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:6-7, to “be anxious about nothing, but in everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make (my) requests known to God.” The Bible emphasizes persistence, so I repeatedly pray about the things that make me anxious (the original Greek indicates an ongoing process, not a one-and-done).

And Paul promises that if we follow his “formula” this cup will pass us by, right? Nope. He promises that if we persist in turning everything over to God in this manner, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (defies external circumstances), will guard (our) hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

And so, at the end of this passage Paul concludes not “He will do everything I ask,” but, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We’re inclined to pray, “Change my circumstances!” But more often than not, God’s response is (ruffle, ruffle), “How ’bout we make it an inside job…

And change you instead?” 

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to Ruffled Feathers and Unanswered Prayers

  1. LTWrites says:

    I enjoyed reading this post. I remember when I was a little girl of 6 sitting with my bible on my knees and under the covers with the light on next to me and hearing (very distinctly from inside my head) that what I was about to go through was going to be really bad, but He would get me to the other side of it. That has stayed with me, my whole life, God remains with me through all things.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Mitch, this is pure gold! You’ve tackled one of the most pressing issues for most of us…why isn’t God making my life what I wanted it to be? And turned the answer gently to what our relationship to Jesus is really about. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is good, Mitch. Words of wisdom straight from the Book.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Kathleen Ellerman says:

    Insightful. Love reading your thoughts on everything. This I especially relate to.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. schoen55 says:

    Awesome! A keeper for those time when we can’t stand the ruffle.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. God is a “user”. Satan thinks he is winning, but all he is doing with his terrible weights is making us stronger. Without the weights, we will grow weak and powerless. Bring it on, Satan! Do your best. But the more you weigh me down, the stronger I will become. God wins. You lose.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. “God is in the discipleship business, not the insurance business.” Yes! I’m taking this gold nugget with me.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I appreciated your Bibically balanced discussion of those times when we’re ruffled and want God to change the outward circumstances. We’ve all been there and as you said, nothing wrong with that prayer! But difficult circumstances is how we grow, sigh.

    Once in such a situation, someone told me to look for Jesus in the situation–how I could see Him working and how He could work in and through me.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Oh my, can’t add to all that’s been said, fully agree! Thank you, Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wally Fry says:

    This was great, Mitch. I can testify to every word personally. Seems in the last 6 months any bad thing that could happen to my wife and I has happened. Seriously. We have had sick parents, one parent died, lost a job, gone back to school, and had to look for a new church home. Yet, we are quite at peace with it all, as even among all the junk, we can already see how one trial here has lead to a blessing there. But, relying on Him while that unfolds is the key; if we just roll over and give up prematurely we may never see what the blessing was supposed to be.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Deb Farris says:

    Aww thanks, Mitch—
    Ruffled Deb

    Liked by 2 people

  12. numrhood says:

    john 39:41 thou shall fall into the mountains of Israel
    philippians 4:11


  13. Jo Martin says:

    Psalm 119:71 (Message) My troubles turned out all for the best – they forced me to learn from your textbook

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Piano girl says:

    The words ”everything” and ”ongoing process” jumped out at me. Reminders I need often. Thank you! Love the picture as well. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Cindy Dawson says:

    I just don’t understand why I can’t remember this and have to be reminded over and over again! Thanks, Mitch! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Is it not the price we pay for comfort. In today’s World, many make public their pains and troubles and try to ensure that everyone should react to their plight. Sometimes the lesson is never learned and most of us need to pray for them. Remember: Everything is temporary, with one exception.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Nancy Ruegg says:

    Sometimes our own ruffled feathers (and the way God helps us deal with them) help someone else facing their own ruffling. There’s a good amount of satisfaction in that. Suffering is never pointless.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Jennie says:

    Well said, Mitch. Thank you. When I pray for guidance, I know it must come from within.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Ann Coleman says:

    Very wise words….we have to pray for the right things, and recognize God’s hand in our lives, even when it doesn’t look the way we had imagined.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. benjbensing says:

    Awesome post! As a worker based in Tripoli, Libya, I am always praying that I will be spared and remain untouched in the raging waves of change and upheavals. But God has other plans – not the way I have envisioned it, but I trust that its probably the best for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Reblogged this on Encouraging-Grace and commented:
    Guest Bog written by Mitch Teemley

    Liked by 2 people

  22. gralan says:

    Jesus gave us a model prayer, and after praising God it includes “Thy will be done”. It is what Jesus himself prayed prior to his arrest and crucifixion. He did ask, if possible, that it be avoided but the answer was “No”. We don’t like being told that, even if we are supposed to submit.
    i felt led to pray for God to break me. His answer was “yes”, and I had a stroke, lost my job, our 3bdrm house we watched built from the foundation up, 90% of our belongings. We ended up homeless for 6 years. We haven’t stopped praying, but it is our trust that God has all things under control. This world is not our home, and even in our poverty we help others.
    We look forward to going home when God figures we’re done with his plan for us on this planet.
    Thank you for the blog.
    Ruffly and hopeful

    Liked by 2 people

  23. revruss1220 says:

    It took me a while to read this, but I am so glad I finally did. Right on the money, Mitch. Thanks for that shot of wisdom in my day.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. karanoel says:

    This is so good and so true. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. gpavants says:

    Hi Mitch,

    This has been the theme for the season we are in. (Even as I am writing this piece, Even So Come by Chris Tomlin is playing. Like a bride ready for her groom, we’ll be a church ready for you.”) The Lord is purifying and creating His bride through the fires of time and the Holy Spirit. Have a great week. Ruffled for better flight!

    In Christ,


    Liked by 1 person

  26. elisa bosley says:

    Whoa. This hit me right between the eyes: “It [going through hard things] has a lot to do, I suspect, with the fact that God is in the discipleship business, not the insurance business.”
    You just said in one sentence what I’ve been struggling with for about three years. And your wisdom in this blog keeps coming. So short, yet so rich with Biblical truth and comfort!
    Thanks for “liking” my blog today, because that’s how I found you and happened to read this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. lynnabbott says:

    This rings so true with my experience, Mitch! Thank you for writing Truth with such grace!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Maxim says:

    Thank you. Reading this early this morning set my priorities and disposition today. God bless.


  29. Great message. I especially like the phrase, “God is in the discipleship business, not the insurance business.” Most of my spiritual growth and witness came not through easy times, but from God leading me through difficult times and trials.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Yes, God challenges us. And yes, it’s up to us to meet that challenge. But can’t the challenges that God presents to us be a little more spaced out, sometimes? Life can be hard, just give us more time.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Pingback: Ruffled Feathers and Unanswered Prayers | John 4:48 NIV “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

  32. Idara-abasi says:

    Love the nuggets of wisdom your posts ruffles in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. I love this post, Mitch. Every word you wrote here is so true.

    A couple of months ago, I received two really amazing, miraculous, and almost instantaneous answers to my prayers. I was thanking and praising God, really flying high. Wow, God hears my prayers! Wow, God loves me this much, that He would answer my prayers in such a spectacular way!

    Then, as I was praising and rejoicing and thanking God, this thought came to me: “Would you still be this grateful, and would you still praise Me, if My answer to your prayers had been NO?”

    Soon after that, a beautiful Christian friend who was dealing with some serious health issues and facing imminent homelessness reminded me of Habakkuk 3:17-19. Here it is in the Amplified version, as found on BibleGateway:

    Habakkuk 3:17-19 Amplified Bible (AMP)

    Though the fig tree does not blossom
    And there is no fruit on the vines,
    Though the yield of the olive fails
    And the fields produce no food,
    Though the flock is cut off from the fold
    And there are no cattle in the stalls,
    Yet I will [choose to] rejoice in the Lord;
    I will [choose to] shout in exultation in the [victorious] God of my salvation!
    The Lord God is my strength [my source of courage, my invincible army];
    He has made my feet [steady and sure] like hinds’ feet
    And makes me walk [forward with spiritual confidence] on my [a]high places [of challenge and responsibility].

    [a] Habakkuk 3:19 The troubled times of life may actually be the “high places” of spiritual growth for the believer who remains stable when tested by God.

    PS: I have shared this with a few people online already. I don’t think you are one of them. But if you are, my apologies for repeating myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. numrhood says:

    may i ask why leave out verse 51 after quoting verse 39 from matt

    is that the only chapter in matthew that contains verses 39 & 51


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