It is certainly possible for someone to look fine on the outside yet be extremely sick. Psalm 106 is a poetic description of the Israelites’ inward poverty despite their outward wealth.

The psalmist recalled how God in His mercy and grace had repeatedly rescued His people as they traveled through the desert.

Psalm 106:7-11 said, “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea — the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known. He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; So He led them through the depths, As through the wilderness. He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy. The waters covered their enemies; There was not one of them left.”

He supplied them each day with manna (Exodus 16:4-16), but the people got tired of it. Instead, they readily called to mind the menu they were served while enslaved in Egypt, and complained, “Who will give us meat to eat? . . . There is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Numbers 11:4, 6).

God got tired of all their griping and He judged them in an interesting way— He gave them what they asked for. A wind blowing in from the sea covered the ground with quail. For two days the greedy people feasted on quail, but while the flesh was still between their teeth God hit them with a severe plague (Numbers 11:31-34). The psalmist commented, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalm 106:15). Although they were looking forward to the fullness that would come from this meat, inwardly they were starving!

Just because we address our desires to God doesn’t automatically make them good prayers. They may be for our own selfish desires or we may ask with the wrong motivation. James wrote, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). How much better to say, “Above all, Lord, I want Your will!” That way, we’ll not only get what we pray for, we’ll want what we get (James 4:15).

Be careful what you pray for— you might get it.

Shane Williams preaches at Sutton Lane church of Christ in Mayfield.

Shane Williams preaches at Sutton Lane church of Christ in Mayfield.