How to Treat God Like a Magic Genie – When Prayers Go Unanswered


I used to pray to God like a magical genie. 

Like God was a funny Robin Willams type character, just waiting to pop out of a lamp and grant me three wishes on the streets of Agrabah. 

Because in 3Rd Grade, I needed his help: I didn’t study for a math test. 

I snuck out of class, right before the multiplication quiz, to use the restroom. 

But what I was really doing was praying. 

I stopped at the water fountain in the hall, pretended to drink, and made sure the coast was clear. 

Then I dropped to my knees, clasped my hands, and prayed right in front of that fountain – like it was some sort of holy relic. 

“Dear God,” I prayed. “I know I didn’t study, but I really need to pass this test. Please calm my nerves and give me the answers. Amen.” 

I shot straight to my feet before anyone was the wiser, and headed back to class with a skip in my step. With God on my side, I was ready to ace that quiz. 

Obviously, I failed. 

Any moron will tell you God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t care about your success. If you didn’t study, you’ll fail. Plain and simple. 

Yet, strangely, I felt at peace. I wasn’t nervous. 

Prayers – Lottery 

Then I bought a lottery ticket. 

As a young adult, I didn’t have much going for me. I worked a miserable job in retail, without clear direction for my life. 

But one thing I knew for certain, was that God wanted me to win the lottery. 

The Powerball had climbed to historic heights: $400 million dollars. Wow. Most of us can’t even appreciate a number that large. 

As the winner, you’d instantly be thrust into the upper 1% of the wealthy elite, able to buy whatever you desire, without a care in the world. 

And you’d certainly be happy forever. Because, obviously, money equals happiness. Duh. 

I also knew I had better motivations with my winnings. I’m like smarter than most people, understand taxes and interest rates, and would use the money for good. 

So I bought a single ticket with God in mind. 

“Dear God,” I prayed. “I don’t have a vision for my future or where my career is taking me, but I promise if I win the Powerball, I’ll give you all the praise.” 

I thought, maybe 50% of the winnings should go to the church. Could you imagine that, a church with a single check for over $200 million dollars? Wow. I would be the most generous person in the history of the world. 

And just imagine what good the church would do with all that money. They’d probably build more empty building that no one would use, and would rot away in another 50 years. What a great treat for the church to do more of God’s work. Certainly God wants more buildings in his name – and I’m the one who’s going to build them for Him. 

And I made side deals with God too – like I wouldn’t own too many houses, and maybe I’d buy a new car, but only one at a time – because obviously a garage full of high-end exotic vehicles is self-indulgent. 

But when the time came for the drawing, I had my ticket in hand and watched as the numbers flashed across the screen. 

Nope. Nothing. Nada. I didn’t even get one number right. 

What the heck God? I thought I prayed to you and we discussed this? Were my proportions wrong? Did I need to give you more? Like is 90% better? 

I did a quick calculation, and yep, I could still live on 10% of $400 million dollars – $40 million dollars would be rough, but I’d make due. 

I just messed up. I had been too greedy. I would need to try again. 

Prayers – Adulting 

Now, as a productive adult, I find myself doing more of the same. 

The prayers are different. I’m not praying for money or things I haven’t worked for, but what’s the difference? I’m still sugarcoating my prayers in selfish desires. 

I’m like, “God, please take this pain away. I don’t want to be miserable anymore.” 

But what am I praying for? 

Am I praying for success? For a good job? For a pain-free life? For happiness? 

Does God even care about any of that crap? 

I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m a moron. 

He’s like, “Quit it with all that self-indulgent garbage and let me work, dude.” 

God is rude sometimes. He’s snarky. But he has to be.  

Because we’re never listening. We’re too busy talking to ourselves. 


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