My first issue stems from praying for my son's healing from blindness ever since we discovered he lost sight in one of his eyes. Yet for some reason, God -- who has the capability to heal -- hasn't healed him. I've heard many well-meaning Christians say, "Maybe God HAS healed him -- by sparing the sight in his 'good' eye." But my response is, "No, that is not healing. That is sparing his good eye from blindness." The two are entirely different!
But SPARING is not HEALING. The two are entirely different! Jesus healed the leper (Mark 1) when he touched him -- he was made completely whole. Jesus healed the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12) when he spoke the word -- he was made completely whole. Jesus healed the woman (Luke 8) who bled for decades -- she was made completely whole. Jesus healed the cripple (Matthew 9) when he said to rise up -- he was made completely whole. Jesus didn't simply "spare" these people of something; He healed them. So why not now? While God has spared sight in one of Joshua's eyes, why not make him completely whole and give him fully-restored sight in both eyes now? There was no magic prayer in those recorded events, only Jesus' compassion on the sick.
Do I have to be more specific when I pray? "Please God, cause the retina in Joshua's left eye to attach to the rear of his inner eyeball so light can pass through the cornea and optic lens, then reflect off the retina so as to send a signal to his brain to process the vision of light." Do I really have to do that, as if God might reply, "Ahh, but you got wrong how the eye processes light. I'm sorry, Mike, not until you get it right will I do it for him." Please don't mistake me -- I am very thankful for that good vision in one of his eyes. I simply want Joshua to experience physical wholeness that Jesus afforded to the others mentioned earlier.
So when Jesus was quoted as saying, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" (John 14:12-14), did he mean what he said? Can I ask him ANYTHING, or is there a catch-clause in there somewhere? Are there limited circumstances to which this promise applies? If so, that frustrates me. If not, it frustrates me -- because He hasn't come through on it.
Jesus was also quoted by Luke as saying, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:9-14).
This passage leads to issue #2: How long does "keep on asking" mean? When does the child in the passage run out of hope and trust that his father will finally provide? When is enough enough? Such situations are truly exasperating. How long shall the child plead with his father for good things? How long must I continue to plead with God to heal Joshua before I run out of hope or confidence in Him? I honestly don't think Jesus was inserting trickery in his statement, implying, "Yeah, you can ask all you want, but you ain't gonna get it unless x, y, and z..."
So when well-meaning people say, "Well, it's just not God's timing", or, "He always answers...sometimes it's yes, sometimes it's no, other times it's 'not yet'." That rationale bothers me. Just when IS God's timing, then? When do I "let God off the hook" for not healing or answering...when I physically unable to ask? I do not treat God like He's a genie in a bottle who will give me a jumbo jet, a fast car, and a big mansion. But I also believe Him when he said, "Ask...and I will."
So, God, will you?