It’s seems simple enough, I do things that God wants me to do so why won’t He do what I want Him to do? I once read something about this in the Bible it goes like this…
“But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” (John 15:7 NLT)
Is it too much to ask that God answer my prayer? What is prayer anyway?
What is prayer? Great question! Is prayer our opportunity to nudge God along in the direction we hope He will go? The things we are asking of God in prayer are not selfish things. We pray for a friend who is sick or a loved one in the hospital. We ask God to help someone who needs a job or a spouse. We ask him to help us do better, be better, want better for our lives. This does not qualify as selfish praying or even wrong prayer so why would God not grant prayers like these?
Let’s first consider where God has answered prayer in our life. Part of being human is being forgetful or even worse ungrateful. Even our national calendar calls us once a year to remember to give Thanks. Why? Because we forget and are at times, ungrateful. Take some time to remember the wonderful answers to prayer you and your family and friends have received from God. It was not always as you had hoped or planned but God did come through, he rescued, healed, provided, encouraged, lifted, gave strength, hope, He showed up in powerful ways. You probably do not need to think long and hard to find God’s provision for your life.
Now if that exercise did not work to produce gratitude in your life you have an “I” problem. You remember the letter “I” it is sandwiched between the letter “S” and “N” when you look at the word SIN. When we are overcome by our own sinful nature we struggle to see outside of our own wants, desires, hopes and dreams.
Example after example of human behavior in Sin is recorded in the Bible. A brother kills his brother because he is jealous. A King takes another man’s wife because he desires her. A son deceives his father to get the inheritance that belongs to his brother because he wants it for himself. “I” will have what I want even if God will not help me get it.
Maybe you are not in the “I” camp. You are grateful for answered prayer. But you are confused as to why a recent prayer was not answered or at least not in the way you had hoped it would be answered. May I suggest to you that perhaps prayer is not for getting God moving in our direction but rather to get us to move in His direction. Could it be that prayer is about aligning our will with God’s rather than trying to get God’s will aligned with ours. We can find a good deal of evidence for this in the Bible.
39 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.”
41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”(Luke 22:39-42 NLT)
I can imagine how we might have prayed this prayer:
“Father…please take this cup of suffering away from me. Amen.”
When Jesus prayed, the priority of the Father was what He wanted. He was praying “Father make my will like yours.” It is the hard work of prayer that begins to mold, bend and shape our will to God’s. Prayer opens us to trust God. Prayer puts the problem in proper perspective, we get an eternity view rather than a momentary view. Large problems become smaller in the presence of a big God! When we bring our needs, hopes, desires and dreams to God in prayer we are bringing them where they belong and placing them in His tender care.