Somehow, in my growing up years, I picked up the concept that it’s my fervor and persistence that will move God to answer my pleas.
And rarely were those fearfully motivated prayers answered the way I desired.
So, the obvious reason my prayers lay unanswered on heaven’s floor, was I wasn’t fervent and persistent enough. But I found that amping up desperate prayers is exhausting. And not any more fruitful.
So how does prayer work? Why do we petition God when He is powerful enough to move mountains without our input or help?
I don’t have answers, but I do have some thoughts and amazing experiences of prayers answered.
To understand prayer (and I’m talking about petitions) we need know who He is to us. Is He a friend, a judge, a distant but all powerful Being, a dad, or something else?
Who is He to you?
This is the crux, because when we define who He is to us, that reveals the type of relational interaction we expect from Him.
Luke 18:1-8 shows Jesus teaching a principle of prayer. But I think the enemy twists the story so people place God in the position of the unjust judge, creating fear of Him in us. But Jesus is not making any kind of connection between God and the judge. He is underscoring the need for persistence and faith.
What is Faith?
Now faith isn’t something we can muster up through self-will. But many of us attempt to, trying really hard to have a strong faith in God. But faith develops out of belief and trust.
I have faith in my husband’s character because I know him. I have faith in certain company’s products because they’ve proven consistently reliable.
Faith is both an act and a journey. We choose to believe and then we step into faith to trust God.
And that’s where what we believe about Him affects how we pray to Him and what we expect to receive from those prayers.
Is He good? If we believe that, we will expect good things from Him. If we don’t, we won’t. I’m not saying we won’t receive good things, just that we won’t expect to.
If we pray from fear and lack, we don’t really know to whom we are praying.
Our God is extravagant in His love for us, so we need to expect and anticipant the abundance He promises us. Abundant joy, peace, love…It doesn’t promise an easy path, but it does mean in the midst of trials we know He is with us and has our back.
When Jesus is teaching the disciples about prayer in that passage of Luke 18, He is showing them that even an unjust judge will render a just verdict when someone doesn’t give up. He points out how much more quickly
(Luke 18:8) God will render justice to His kids.
But I wonder if many of us miss the end of verse 8? Persistence has to be coupled with faith. And faith that moves mountains comes from knowing the character and goodness of the One we are petitioning.
When we know God’s goodness, we don’t pray hoping to be heard. We listen and ask how we should be praying, so we are partnering in what God is doing.
I’ve seen so many more prayers answered when I come to God knowing He has the answer. I just need to be still enough to listen for what it is, and then pray it with Him into existence (Heb. 11:1).
This is a beautiful song to sit and let your heart soak in Him.
Father, teach me how to walk in faith. How to trust You with the difficulties in my life. I want to know You in a way that strengthens my faith and trust. Show me how to come to You rejoicing in who You are when life is hard and to listen to discover how You want me to pray. Help me to pray from Your goodness instead of my lack. In Jesus’ name, amen.