“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

There are certain things in the Christian’s life that I have to admit I struggle with. Perhaps the biggest one is prayer. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the power of prayer. I’ve seen miracles that can only be explained by the working of God’s hand. I’ve seen lives changed. I’ve seen demons flee. I’ve seen people get up and walk when medical science told us they’d never walk again. Prayer works. Jesus’ words are not void. 

On the other hand, I’ve seen parents weep over the casket of a child because their prayers ‘weren’t answered’. I’ve seen the innocent accused wrongly because a judge decided to use his own ‘wisdom’ rather than look at the evidence ‘objectively’. I’ve watched spouses walk away from families while the church prayed things would be different. Prayers offered up to heaven seem to fall harmlessly to the ground leaving lives and bodies strewn in their path. Does that mean I don’t believe in prayer? NO. As I stated earlier, prayer works. I’ve seen far too many personal examples of God’s working to believe otherwise. I believe the Bible to be God’s Holy Word, without error unashamedly. I believe in and take advantage of the promise we have in Hebrews and elsewhere that we can come with confidence before the throne of God to receive mercy and grace in our time of need. I believe our God is sovereign, all-powerful, loving and merciful. I believe my faith is a package deal. You can’t pick and choose which parts of ‘God’ you will believe and which you will not. It’s all or nothing. He believes in you when you fail, all he asks is that you believe in him when he disappoints.

So here are my thoughts on the hard aspects of prayer thus far in the journey. It’s not an inclusive list, I didn’t find them on some tablets buried in the ground. They came from my heart.

When you struggle to believe in prayer, remember that prayer you can believe in means:

  • Your Heavenly Father won’t give you something that’s harmful to you. All of us are like 2 year-old children. We want the things we see in life with little regard for the consequences they bring to us. We see for today, not tomorrow. Why else does lust, addiction and spending beyond our means hold such an allure. Jesus promises us that if we pray for bread, God won’t give us a rock. The opposite is also true. If we pray for a rock to eat, God won’t give it to us. He loves us too much to give us something that will hurt us. Having said that, remember he also will never force you to take the best choice. He loves you too much for that too.
  • Your Heavenly Father wont keep you from going through something that you need to go through in order  grow stronger. None of us like pain. Sometimes we’ll choose painful things because we think that pain will be less than the pain before us, but we never choose pain as the best route.  However, strength never comes without adversity. Walking never comes without falling; good health never comes from willing it to as we over-eat and under-exercise; learning faith never comes without an element of doubt leading to trust. A loving Father knows what it’s going to take to make you strong and he won’t give up on you until he has you strong enough to face what lay ahead.
  • Your Heavenly Father won’t thwart his eternal purpose by keeping you from going through something you need to go through in order to help others on their journey. Your Father’s ultimate desire is to bring all of his children into relationship with him. The only way that will happen is through Jesus Christ. When Jesus left planet earth he left behind a charge to each of us, a challenge to go, to disciple, to reach out to those caught in the web of sin and despair. The most effective ambassadors are those who’ve struggled themselves. Because of his great love for you and others; because of his eternal goal of passionately desiring to spend eternity with your neighbors, he may allow you to go through things so you can more show more passion and more understanding to those who need Jesus.
  • Your Heavenly Father won’t answer a prayer that is contrary to his holiness. This may be the hardest of all for us to endure and understand. He is a holy God. He is a perfect God. Sin can not stand in his presence. Because of this, when sin in in our lives he needs to cleanse us. Not for his sake but for ours. Unconfessed sin keeps us from the passionate relationship he so earnestly desires. We may endure the consequences of our actions, not because he hates us, but because he wants to cleanse us.

 That’s the short list. There are no easy answers. There are times we’ll never understand his actions. There are times we won’t even know how to pray. Circumstances may change our view of God, but they will never change God’s love for us.

 PRAYER: Father I confess to you that I don’t understand your actions in my life. I thank you and praise you that in spite of my limited view and my weakness you still love me. I worship you for the fact that I can approach your throne even when I question your actions. Thank you for the grace to go on. Amen.

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