It was a remarkable thing that the man who was never to die, for whom God had ordained an infinitely better lot, the man who would be carried to heaven in a chariot of fire and be translated and not see death, should thus pray, "Take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers." We have here a memorable proof that God does not always answer prayer in kind, though He always does in effect. He gave Elijah something better than what he asked for, and thus really heard and answered him. It was strange that the lion-hearted Elijah should be so depressed by Jezebel's threat as to ask to die, and yet it was so kind on the part of our heavenly Father not to take His desponding servant at his word.
There is a limit to the doctrine of the prayer of faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything we choose to ask for. We know that we sometimes ask and do not receive because we ask wrongly. If we ask for that which is not promised—if we run counter to the spirit that the Lord would have us cultivate—if we ask contrary to His will or to the decrees of His providence—if we ask merely for selfish gratification and without a concern for His glory, we must not expect that we will receive. But when we ask in faith, without doubting, if we do not receive the precise thing for which we asked, we shall receive an equivalent, and more than an equivalent, for it. As one remarks, "If the Lord does not pay in silver, He will in gold; and if He does not pay in gold, He will in diamonds." If He does not give you precisely what you ask for, He will give you that which is tantamount to it, and that which you will be happy to receive in its place.
So, dear reader, be much in prayer, and make this evening a time of earnest intercession, but be careful what you ask for!
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From Morning & Evening revised and edited by Alistair Begg copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.