"Dual Minded" Prayers for God's Goodness


In his book, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith, R.C. Sproul writes:

One of life's amusing moments comes when we observe a puppy or a kitten chasing its own shadow. It tries in vain to catch it. When it moves, its shadow moves with it. Not so with God. James declares: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning" (James 1:17).God never changes. With him there is "no shadow of turning." This suggests not only that God is immaterial and therefore incapable of casting a shadow, but also that there is no "shadow side," in a figurative or moral sense, to God. Shadows suggest darkness, and in spiritual terms darkness suggests evil. Since there is no evil in God, there is no hint of darkness in Him either. He is the Father of lights.When James adds that there is no "shadow of turning" with God, it is not enough to understand this merely in terms of God's unchanging or immutable being. This reference is also to God's character. Not only is God altogether good, He is consistently good. God doesn't know how to be anything but good.This truth about God's goodness is not just "wishful thinking." It is reality for those who trust him and look to him for forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" God gives us good things, even if he doesn't always give us exactly what we ask for.

Of course, when that happens, we may be tempted to believe that God isn't so good after all. However, I believe the issue is entirely different. When we pray for a better job to support our families, the funds to fix a leaky roof, or what have you, on those occasions when God does not respond in the way that we hoped, perhaps that says less about his goodness, and more about the essence of our desires and requests. I.e. Perhaps we've prayed for the wrong thing.

I've always appreciated C.S Lewis' take on this. In The Weight of Glory, he wrote:


"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Lewis isn't suggesting some sort of "name it and claim it" approach to prayer that turns God into a celestial Santa Clause; quite the opposite. If I understand him correctly, it seems Lewis is saying that when we pray for the things of this world like health, happiness, freedom, peace, etc., we must do so with a broader hope in the things to come in the next. We must pray, not just for freedom in earthly terms, but also for freedom from the bondage of sin, and the oppressive guilt that rises from it and keeps us in conflict with God. When we pray for healing, we must not pray just for physical healing, but also the healing of our spiritual brokenness that keeps our hearts from experiencing the full blessings of his  grace.

While it's good to pray for our current concerns, struggles, burdens, and fears, we must always do so with the "dual minded spirit," recognizing that while we live in this world, we were made for another.