Holding God Hostage Like a Genie in a Bottle



We prayed a really dangerous prayer a while back.  It went a little something like this:

“God, show yourself strong on behalf of our family.”

At the time, our motivation behind the prayer was the desire for biological children even though doctors said it wasn’t likely.

And we felt like we heard an answer from God.  It went a little something like this:

“I will build your family.”


You know, the problem with prayers sometimes lies in our interpretation.

I say: “God, show yourself strong on behalf of our family.”  What I really mean is: “Defy the odds and give us biological children.”

Meanwhile, God says:  “Oh boy.  Show Myself strong?  They left the back door wide open on that one.  Buckle up, kiddo, you are in for the ride of your life.  I will build your family.”

I hear: “I will build your family,” which, to me, means, “Sweet!  Go stock up on the pregnancy tests Babe!”

And then He does start to build it and it doesn’t look anything like pregnancy tests or sonograms or baby announcements and I think maybe He didn’t actually hear my prayer after all.  Or at least He didn’t hear what I actually MEANT when I prayed that prayer.

And so I say: “Hold up, God.  See, what I actually meant was….”


We like to hold God hostage to answering prayers in the way we want Him to.  Don’t we?  But He looks down and says, “Hey kiddo, you’re not thinking big enough.  You’re not thinking on My scale.  Climb up here for a minute and let me show you what I mean….”


I was holding God hostage.  I prayed that prayer, and it sounded really good and pious and even submissive, but what I really wanted, no – EXPECTED, Him to do was fulfill my wish like a genie in a bottle (and yes, I just heard Christina Aguillera in my head…you know you did too).

And when I realized He was answering, just not in the way I thought He would, my stubbornness raised its ugly head.  I still didn’t want to let go of my expectations.  “THIS is how it’s supposed to look, God.”  And it took a while before I let Him gently pry from my fingers the expectations I was holding so tightly to.

Desire.  Expectation. Hope.  These are all good things, God-given things even.  But when I hold the fulfillment of my desire tightly clenched in one fist, and hold God hostage to the arrangement of that fulfillment in the other, I’m not actually letting God….BE God.  I’m saying, “I’ve got this.  This is what I want.  Now please make sure it happens, and happens like this.”  And God gets diminished to a fairy granting three wishes.


When we pray, we pray with desire, expectations, hope…yes, all of that!  But we must also pray with open hands, trusting that He sees things we’re not even capable of realizing.

He’s too big – and too good – to be held hostage by our limited expectations.

Safe?  Of course He isn’t safe.  But He’s good.

~C.S. Lewis


5 thoughts on “Holding God Hostage Like a Genie in a Bottle

  1. Boy do I ever relate to this. When you get to the point of seeing this in your life, you know you are finally learning to recognize where God is at work. We have to let go of our dreams and desires so that God can fulfill His much bigger plans for our lives! Love you Lauren.

    Liked by 1 person

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