Over the past several weeks have discussed why we pray, how to pray, and what to pray. We have gone over how powerful prayer is; but is it enough? Is there ever a time where prayer isn’t adequate?
God encourages us that all our prayers are heard. He tells us that with every prayer we send up, an answer comes down. We receive one of three responses; Go, No, or I’ll let you know. Within these three, there is a varying level of action that needs to take place. But to get to the point of receiving answers, we must examine our prayers and determine our motives behind each of them.
However, when our prayers contain any of these three elements, they can never be answered the way God desires to answer them.
When There is No Follow-Through
When we pray, we are putting God in the driver seat. We surrender ourselves and allow him to act in the situation, according to His will. Sometimes we can sit back and watch His hand move and be amazed at the miraculous power of prayer.
Other times, we look at a situation, and nothing happens. We pray more, still the water is not disturbed. We pray even more and sometimes get upset with God and ask Him why He isn’t doing anything. All the while, God is the one waiting; for us.
For instance, maybe you are dissatisfied with your job. You pray to God for a new job, a unique opportunity that will get you out of the frustration and rut you find yourself in with your current vocation. You wait, but no new job comes your way. You pray more, still nothing.
Your frustration grows, and you become angry at God. But how many job applications did you submit to other places of employment? How many job fairs did you attend? How many inquiries did you make to find another job? If the answer is zero, then God is not the problem, you are.
Prayer sometimes will require action on our part for the answer to come. The same goes for mending relationships. Sometimes we need to be the one to humble ourselves and act by approaching the other person. This is also applicable to asking God for patience or endurance.
Heh, you know that when you pray for patience, you are not going to be given patience. God will provide you with opportunities to display patience. You will be placed in situations that require endurance. We are the ones who need to choose to endure. We are the ones who need to decide to be patient.
When it is Half-Hearted
Half-hearted prayer can show up in two forms. When we just don’t feel like praying, or when we have already determined that we don’t really want an answer for one reason or another.
When we don’t feel like praying, we throw words up in the air, hoping they will fall somewhere near the feet of the Lord. There is no heart behind it. Token prayers are not prayers at all. One of the most popular token prayers is the prayer before a meal. We are so “Christian-minded” that we feel the need to pray but so hungry that we want to get through it as quickly as possible.
So, we mumble something, and even before the Amen, our mouth is full of food. I am guilty of this one. My family and I do it all the time. And while this example is a little silly, there are many more where it becomes a bit more serious. Yes, God hears all prayers, half-hearted or not, but don’t you think that the God of all creation deserves more respect than a token prayer?
Another area where we can lack respect for prayer is when we are afraid of the answer. Better yet, knowing the answer is going to be the opposite of what we want it to be. We may give a well-worded prayer, but our heart is not in it because we have already determined what we are going to do.
We do not wait for the yes, no, or maybe so. We just act, more often than not, to our inevitable failure. Then what happens… Ya, we get upset with God for not helping us in our need. That takes us into the final element of not enough.
When it is Selfish
This goes back to the difference between our needs and wants. God has promised to provide all that we need in this life. He does not promise to give us all our wants. Again, He is not a genie-God. He does not live in a lamp to satisfy each one of our whims. Just because we may be Christian does not give us permission to ask for preference, request a list, or demand blessings to be bestowed upon us. All of this is selfishness.
Remember, when we pray, always ask one vital question; Who gets the glory if our prayer is answered? That is the end-all of tests when we are evaluating our requests of the Lord. If God is not the final answer, then our motives need to be examined as to why we are praying.
Prayer is the answer to any issue that arises in our lives. Are you struggling? -Pray about it. — Do you need guidance? -Ask the Lord for direction. — Are you looking for answers? -Seek God for the resolution. Any and every situation you and I face, good or bad, can be taken to the Lord in prayer. Whether we are praying for an answer or praying for the ability to glorify Him for an answer, our knees is the best place to be. His welcoming arms are always waiting for us—to hold us in comfort or in celebration.
When you do pray, seek him wholeheartedly without an iota of selfishness. Always consider what His desire is for your life and accept the answer regardless of its popularity. Then be ready. Sometimes God will require more.
Be prepared to act if needed. God always desires the best for you. If you allow laziness, pride, or selfishness to rule your prayer life, you will miss out. Open your heart and be ready for all the blessings God has in store for your life when we pray.