Do we believe without a doubt? When we pray, do we believe that we will receive the things we ask for, not on a future day, but then and there? This is the teaching of this inspiring scripture. How we need to pray, “Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5) until doubt is gone, and absolute trust claims the promised blessings as its very own.

E M Bounds

I have never met a Christian who boasted in their prayer life.  To the man, everyone confesses weakness, fear and self-recrimination.  Universally, we seen pleasantly surprised when God does indeed answer prayer.  Why is prayer so hard?

Here are some thoughts that encourage my heart:

  • God wants us to pray.  Always.  In every situation. At all times.
  • God expects us to pray as little kids.  We don’t have to earn a PhD first.  In fact, there’s no such thing as a bad prayer.

How can I say this?  Surely we’ve prayed selfishly and wrongly….

Well, here are some examples of God answering ‘BAD’ prayers.

In Numbers 11, the recently-rescued Hebrews pine for food from their Egyptian captive days –

– vs 18 to 20 – “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?

And even Job in the midst of complaining to God about how unfairly he has been treated longs for his accusations to be made into a permanent written record,

Chapter 19: 23-24 – Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever!

How ironic is that!

At the bottom of our reluctance to pray, I think, is our fear of being disappointed.  If we pray and get our hopes up and God DOESN’T answer the way we have asked, then we will be even worse off.  We are afraid of being hurt even more.

And not without good reason! For we can all point to people who have NOT been rescued, healed, blessed.  My ‘go-to-example’ of that in scripture is Paul and his ‘thorn’.  And in this New Year, 2013, I think of Joni Eareckson Tada who is STILL paralyzed and in daily pain, 45 years after her diving accident.  Faithful people who have not received what they asked God for. What do we make of that?  Even Francis Chan shared in a talk that he prayed for his Buddhist grandmother to receive Christ before she died.  And to his knowledge she died, darkened and without hope.

I don’t know.  But what I DO know is that God DOES answer some of my prayers RIGHT AWAY.  And some prayers He answers after years of praying.  And some prayers He has not (yet) answered the way I have hoped. I can also point to those prayer requests He firmly turned down.

Here is where I have to bow, submit to and REST on some comforting truths:

  • God IS the definition of goodness
  • God LOVES me and has already done the very best for me by adopting me as his child and making me an heir to His Kingdom Riches F-O-R-E-V-E-R.   And THAT even before I knew what I was getting into!
  • God has chosen to WORK HIS WILL partially by the raw material of our prayers.  He invites, expects and even commands our participation.
  • I am growing as I learn about this Kingdom business of prayer, of talking to God.
  • I can’t get prayer wrong.
  • I don’t have to be good FIRST before praying.
  • I don’t have to have the right amount of faith first before God hears me.  He ALWAYS hears me.
  • I feel better when I pray.
  • I can always pray when I don’t know what else to do.
  • No prayer goes unheard.
  • God SPOKE the world into existence.
  • My words have more supernatural power than I know.
  • The spirit world hears my prayers and WITNESSES the impure faith that I do have and marvels at God’s response.
  • It’s not my faith anyway.  Any faith that I have has been given to me by God.
  • Answers to prayers are NOT dependent on me.  I do not need to fear that my faith will be inadequate or insufficient.
  • And finally, as EM Bounds encourages, I can and SHOULD ask for MORE faith.

What can YOU do to help ME grow in the confident practice of prayer?  Share what your prayers are and when and how God answers them. This kind of practicing gratitude also increases our awareness of God’s answers.

And remember, that God WANTS to answer our prayers..that is His default mode.  And every prayer that is answered brings glory and honor and praise to Him.  Take THAT, evil forces of darkness!