Today I’ve got a devotion running on Encouragement for Today. If you are visiting from there, welcome.
I grew up praying timid prayers. Small prayers. Prayers that revealed I hoped God would answer, but didn’t really believe He would.
I knew God could answer any prayer, I just didn’t really think He’d answer mine. So my prayers were kind of wimpy, to be honest.
However, my prayers started to change when I had children. Previously, most of life was under my control. But very shortly after having children, I realized they would go places without me. Places where I couldn’t protect them.
It was then God started to challenge my prayers. He asked me directly: Do you trust Me, or do you just say that you trust Me?
Hmmm … those are two very different things when you think about it.
It was so easy for faith to be something I talked about, and hopefully sound mature and wise when I did. But to actually live my faith, to actually, truly trust God, was much harder than I thought.
Truth was, I didn’t trust God very much at all. And that manifested itself in years of worry, anxiety and fear.
So one by one, I started to peel away at my misplaced trust. When I dealt with my fear of flying, I realized I trusted the pilot, the mechanics and the weather more than I trusted God. When I dealt with my fear for my children, I realized I trusted their teachers and coaches to protect them more than I trusted God.
I had to repeat over and over, “I choose to trust You, God, more than I trust _________.”
My faith started to deepen each time I made that decision. And fear and worry became less controlling.
But God isn’t done with me yet. Just this past summer, I read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson*. And God used it to uncover yet more doubt that needed revealing.
Even though I was praying bolder prayers, I was still afraid to be specific. I guess I wanted to give God lots of leeway in how He decided to answer. Then I read this quote from Batterson’s book:
“God does not answer vague prayers.” (South Korean pastor not named in book)
You may or may not believe this statement. And I’m pretty sure God has answered some vague “Help!” prayers. But rather than debate the accuracy of this statement (which I tend to want to do), God used it to challenge me to be more specific in my prayers.
Here’s the deal: If my prayers are vague, how will I know God answered them? It’s just too easy to explain away what happens on earth. But when I’ve prayed specifically, then I know only God has answered.
Here’s an example. My heart has gone out of rhythm a few times. And one time I decided to pray boldly for God to put it back in rhythm right then. So I placed my hand on my heart and asked in the name of Jesus, and it immediately went back into rhythm. Then I prayed that for my sister over the phone, and again, God answered immediately.
The challenge with praying consistently like this is that sometimes (most times) God doesn’t answer immediately. Sometimes God’s answer is no. And sometimes other people make choices that we wish they wouldn’t make. Then what do we do about our faith?
What I’ve come to realize is that while we are still on earth, God’s power isn’t fully realized. Oh, He still has all the power, but we are living in an in between time, between the now and the not yet. Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God, so it’s here now, but not in fullness. That won’t happen until Jesus returns, and every knee will bow and tongue confess that He is Lord.
Which leaves us with the question. Do we pray as if the Kingdom of God is here? Or not yet?
Here’s my take on it. Jesus could come back any minute, and I want to be found faithful (Luke 12:35-40). I want Him to find me completely trusting that what He said was true. That with faith we could say to a mountain “move” and it would move (Matthew 17:20). I want to act in a way that shows I believe Jesus’ words when He said we would do greater things than Him (John 14:12).
If I pray, but don’t believe God will answer, then why pray?
This isn’t a simple issue, I know. And I don’t want to pretend I have all the answers. I’m wrestling with these things just like many. And I’m so afraid to ever be presumptuous or act entitled with God. Far from it. I just want to know what it means to be a completely trusting daughter of the King. One who turns to her Father with complete faith that He will answer.
This is the type of prayer that honors God.
Thanks for sticking with me through this blog post. There’s so much more to discuss on this topic. I hope for today I’ve encouraged you to pray with more boldness. To trust God with abandon. And to believe that He will answer you because He loves you.
As promised in my devotion today, I’d love to give away a prayer journal. In fact, I’d love to give away two! So please leave a comment today on my blog. You can leave a bold prayer. Or just admit that you wish you prayed with more faith. I’ll pick 2 commenters at random, and email you directly by Friday, July 17th.
Thank you so much for joining me today!
* Mark Batterson has been criticized for promoting a “name it and claim it” type of Gospel. After reading His book, I don’t believe this is the truth. He consistently mentions praying according to God’s Word, and trusting God for His good will. It’s possible he’s been quoted out of context. And remember, no one is perfect. This book challenged me to a deeper place of faith, and for that I’m thankful.
*** Thanks to everyone who left a comment. Congratulations to Mona and Karen. You both won a copy of the Prayers and Answers Journal.