I posted before an entry about asking, seeking and knocking. It talks about praying, asking God and working with Him. Here’s another one about praying that we all must be aware.
I’ve heard it often – “I’ve been praying but it’s not being given. I’ve been asking and knocking on God’s door but He’s not answering me…” – something along those lines. I’ve even heard worse, that God is not just, that how could God allow such evil and not hear his prayer of justice, that how could God let the wicked triumph, to the point that some would mock and ridicule God’s goodness and mercy. It’s painful to hear when people question God’s authority and talk like God can be right or wrong in His decisions just because what a person want was not given to him.
I would often reply with silence, with a smile or a simple phrase – “in God’s time.” And only God knows when that is. Safest answer, I guess. I’m not very much into debating with people about God’s purpose in their lives, but I can write about it, I’d write them letters if that’s a way to get through them.
In the letter of James, he pointed out something about prayer that we are most guilty of.
What causes fight and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ~ James 4:1-3 (NIV)
Motive. Desire. God knows the motive in our hearts. What have you been praying for? Why are you praying for it? Do you think that praying for another person’s harm is what God wants from you? Do you feel that praying for what you want will draw you even more closer to Him? Often, our prayers are built on our selfish desires and motives, for our comfort, for our happiness, for our wants – never for our suffering, for our pruning, for our molding, for our surrender. I’ve never heard anyone who has passionately and loudly acclaimed and asked God to give him even more trials, to take away his “Isaac” or to empty his bank account. It’s often, if not always, praying for God to give this or give that pleasure and take away all the pain. And how we’re all such scriptwriters and directors to God, using our prayers to dictate what He needs to do and then complain when it’s not done the way we expected it.
There is a psalm that will be very helpful to begin with every time we pray.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24
Let us stop and reflect on our prayers. God is not looking for words in our prayers. He’s not after the longest prayer or the prayer with the most profound words or the poetic ones. He looks deep in our hearts. We can be saying one thing and wishing another. He knows the motive, He knows the desire, and He knows what is best for us. Will He, then, give you something that will harm you, drive you to hell, even when in face value what you’re praying for seems just and reasonable? Did we not pray “Do not bring us to the test and deliver us from evil“? Yet we sometimes pray for evil without being aware of it. Just because we’re such rational beings, we feel that God is not making any sense because He’s not complying with our standards? Know this:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9
The next time we kneel down, go to our room or close our eyes to pray, remember to ask God to show us our heart’s motives and to take away the evil ones so that our prayer will be aligned to His will. Remember to seek His will. We can say much or say nothing at all, yet we have to surrender and to listen when we pray.
I used to have a long list of prayers, very detailed, and sometimes I’d fall asleep praying, or forget something and feel bad about it. When I came across the word surrender, it’s liberating. To know that I can pray not from my mind but from my heart, that I can just utter a statement or two and know that God has got me covered, and that’s a very tranquil feeling – to know that my prayer is heard and answered because I am lifting them and leaving them all up to Him. Makes sense to me because He is the Only One who has my best interest in mind, nothing for Him but all for me. (:
I’m not gonna worry, I know that You’ve got me right inside the palm of your hand. ~ Kari Jobe (Steady my Heart)