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Sometimes we like to put God in small boxes whose boundaries we can understand and cope with. The problem is, that as a free and sovereign Being, God isn't accountable to us for staying in the boxes we like to create.

Here's one: "God will never answer a prayer against his will." In a technical sense, that's true, because if God answers a prayer, then He has decided to do it. But in a broader sense, the spirit of the statement is not true. Case in point - the Israelites asking for a king. The story is in 1 Samuel 8.

It was clearly not God's will for them to have a king. In fact, their insistence on having a king was actually a rejection of God as their king (v7). At God's instruction, Samuel warned the people of all that a king would do, but their hearts were set. They wanted to be like all the other nations (v20) - something that God expressly did not want for them.

So, God gave them what they asked for. Not his will, not what was best for them - but the hardness of their hearts held sway.

Mercifully, God doesn't seem to do this regularly. In His grace and in His love for us, he typically denies us those things that we think we want, but that He knows are not right for us. But that's a decision on His part - not a limitation that He is forced to operate within.

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