Well, I have my needs. [Don’t we all?] I think I am going to take them to God in prayer. I make my supplications and sit back and relax. I know God is going to take care of my concerns…
Wouldn’t it be nice if it was this simple?
The only requirement for a positive response is to believe in God…
Christians are often confused about the role of their faith in their prayers.
Many take literally the verses in Matthew 7: 9-11 that say “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
Does it really work like that? What many of us fail to remember is that no matter what happens in our lives, we are not in control; God is.
One needs to look at what W. Bingham Hunter calls the key characteristics of God to understand how prayers of the faithful are answered.
First, there is God’s omnipotence. He has the ability to deliver whatever we ask. After all, He created the world. In Jeremiah’s prayers he says “Ah Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens, and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” We need to believe that God can do anything but that does not mean that He will. The faithful person may think that God gives them what Hunter calls a “blank check.” They just fill in the request and expect to be able to cash it; Mark 9:23 “everything is possible for him who believes.”
The truly faithful person knows that God can deliver but he delivers according to what He has revealed about Himself and His promises in Scripture. Hunter uses the Old Testament example of Abraham and Sarah. God promised them that they would have a child. They could believe in that but God did not tell them how or when the child would be born. What should they have believed? They should have believed that God would act…and He did in His way and in His own time.
Secondly, the faithful person can know that God is wholly good, gracious and compassionate. You may ask why is this so important? If we know that God can and will act, we have to believe that He will act in our own best interest. Here is where many Christians fail to “let go and let God”. They think they know what they want because they think they know what they need. In reality, God knows what you need better than you do. Hunter says it best: “faith trusts in God rather than insisting on its own way”. We need to ask but then we need to let God decide how our prayers are to be answered. Will we get something that we did not ask for? Maybe. Will we get no answer at all? Maybe.
As Christians we want to discern the will of God. Wouldn’t that be nice? We could tap into the mind of God and know how our prayers are going to turn out. We don’t have to do that. All we have to do is have faith: faith that God can act and faith that He will act in a gracious and compassionate manner.
Hunter uses the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the blazing furnace as a wonderful example. Of course the men wanted to be saved from the furnace so they had specific concerns but their faith was in God rather than their ability to discern His will. By believing in an omnipotent God that had their best interests at heart, they acknowledged the divide between creatures and Creator. By trusting in God Himself, they understood that famous part of the Lord ’s Prayer that goes like this: “thy will be done.”
In our prayers the most important phrase we should say to God would be “if it be Thy will.”