Door Number Three

For the longest time, my favorite part of the movie National Treasure[1] was the beautiful moment when Riley hugs the bluish green man with the strange goatee. I’ve always found that gesture to be pretty relatable because I’d like to think that if I were in that situation, I’d react the exact same way. A few months ago, though, a different scene became my favorite because, of all things, it drastically rocked my prayer life. It’s not a big moment, so if you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed it. In this scene, Ben Gates has just been arrested for stealing the Declaration of Independence (among other treasonous crimes) but the document, and the real bad guy, Ian, are still at large. He and FBI agent, Sadusky, are having a little chat.

Agent Sadusky: So, here are your options: Door number one—you go to prison for a very long time. Door number two—we’re going to get back the Declaration of Independence; you help us find it, and you still go to prison for a very long time. But you’ll feel better inside.

Ben Gates: Is there a door that doesn’t lead to prison?

Agent Sadusky: [Laughing.] Someone’s got to go to prison, Ben.

This is a perfect illustration of my former prayer life. Thankfully, none of my doors have ever led to prison, but with the kind of attitude I had towards prayer, I might as well have put myself in a spiritual penitentiary.  When I brought things before the Lord, I presented Him with choices, my choices. For example, if I was faced with a difficult decision I would assess the situation, develop different strategies, and then ask God to help me chose the right one. If I or someone else in my life was facing a trial, I would ask the Lord for a resolution to the situation or strength to survive until the end. I never asked Him to show me His direction for my decisions; I just acted surprised and amazed when things ultimately worked out better than I had anticipated. I never considered that trials might need to carry on or that there might be blessings within the storm; I just asked God to take me to the other side. Like Agent Sadusky, I saw minimal choices with even fewer end results.

Don’t misinterpret my point—God wants us to ask Him for things, it’s a biblical concept (Matt. 7:7, Jn. 16:24, Phil 4:6). But chances are, if you’re like me and you have a tendency to pray only for the things you can see, the dreams you can envision, or the plans you can create, you’re limiting your understanding of who God is. His thoughts are not our thoughts, which means His ways are not our ways; He promises to go above and beyond anything that we could ever imagine (Is. 55:8-9, Eph. 3:20). He invites—no, commands us—to pray like we believe these things to be true about His character.

God is not a God of two doors. He is not a God of three doors either, but even then, National Treasure still has a thing or two to remind us about prayer. “Sadusky,” Ben says later in the movie, looking out from the deck of the U.S.S. Intrepid, preparing to jump, “I found door number three, and I’m taking it.” Spoiler alert (I told you to go watch it): Ben’s door didn’t lead to prison. It led to fame, new discoveries about American history, money, and a cute wife. If you take that metaphor too seriously, it becomes the prosperity Gospel, but if you look at the big picture, it should encourage you to pray with faith. God doesn’t need our suggestions or solutions; He already has eternity under control, and it’s going to be a lot more awesome than if you and I planned it out. What He wants is for us to honestly pour out our hearts in prayer and surrender them completely to His will. So even if you can’t see it, the next time you pray, no matter what’s on your heart, pray for door number three.

“Behold, I am about to do something new; even now it has begun. Can you not see it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the wasteland” (Is. 43:19).

[1] If you haven’t seen the movie National Treasure I’m going to have to politely ask you to stop reading my blog and go take care of that real quick. It’s on Netflix, so you have no excuse. I’ll be here when you get done in two hours and eleven minutes.

Written by Savanna

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