If I’m being honest, I will have to admit that I struggle with prayer.
I’ve had some pretty big prayers answered with a “no” and some others not answered at all. It’s hard for me to come to the Lord with a request and hope He will answer with a “yes”.
So I come to the question often, why pray if God is in control and already has a plan for me?
This question has followed me for a very long time. I feel as though God has taught me a big part of the answer, but often it gets tough.
I see those around me asking for big things - for health, safety, a loved one’s salvation - and yet I struggle to do the same.
I’ve learned to pray for my own heart, to surrender and to see God’s will. But I feel something stir within me when I hear the phrase, “If only you had enough faith, God would answer.”
Is this how God works?
Does He answer based on our faith’s completeness? Because if I am the variable that determines His answer, doesn’t that take the glory away from Him?
A Prayer Like Jesus
When I’m overwhelmed with these questions, I always go to Scripture. Christ teaches us how to pray both with his words and by his example.
“This, then, is how you should pray:“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’” -Matthew 6:9-13
The very first thing Christ prays for is for God’s will to be done. Before any requests or question, he praises God and surrenders to His will.
And if you think this is just a one-time thing, you see Christ pray in the same way as he faces his own death.
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." -Luke 22:42
So often I get stuck praying for the same thing over and over, diligently, hoping that my faith will bring about an answer. But this is not to be the focus of prayer.
Sure, we are to present our requests to the Lord, but from a place of surrender. From a place of readiness to do His will above anything we may want or desire.
That is a tough place to be. Don’t you think?
To be able to take our deepest desires, whether it is the healing of a loved one, our own safety or something else, Jesus shows us to place God’s will above these things.
We can present our requests, but as we will talk about next, we have to be willing to follow God’s will no matter what.
But Even If You Do Not Take This
The purpose of prayer is not for our comfort or easing of pain, but to glorify God in us and through us.
God does not always answer our prayers the way that we want. Sometimes, we will be able to look back and see why He didn’t answer at the time.
Maybe it’s a relationship that you wanted to work and later realized how unhealthy it was. Or maybe a job that you desperately wanted and found a closed door just so that you could find the perfect job right around the corner. Sometimes we are blessed with seeing why God says no.
But other times, it just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, we face tragedies, trauma and heartbreak and there seems to be no rhyme or reason.
But God is still at work. He is still working His magnificent and glorious plan through you.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew just that as they faced a fiery death for standing firm in their faith.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” -Daniel 3:17-18
They trusted that God could save them, but even if He didn’t, they were willing to keep stepping forward.
I cannot often say the same. When I fear God’s answer of no, I tend to run or try to take things into my own hands. It is hard to boldly step forward, knowing full well that God may allow painful trials in your life.
But it is the expectation that prayer can ease all pain that leads us to a false understanding of God.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33
We are told that this world will bring troubles of many kinds. But we have peace and hope because Christ has overcome the world.
Committing to Prayer With God’s Will in Mind
When we pray, we cannot shrink back from asking God for our hearts desires, but we must commit to prayer with God’s will as our priority before our own wills.
With salvation as our hope and strength, we can step forward boldly, knowing that no matter what happens, God is with us.
So will you commit with me to praying hard, even though we may not get the things we ask for? Can you join me in praying for God’s will to be done above all else?