I’ve seen it posted and heard it said so many times in the context of someone hearing good medical news, getting a job, receiving money, etc. When we get what we want or hear others get what they want, we declare that prayers work…but what about when we don’t get what we want?
Are prayers only about the result? Is the primary goal of our prayers a tangible, positive outcome?
Maybe we should get into the habit of emphasizing the process of prayer more than the outcome of it. I’m not saying the outcome isn’t important, but we need to keep our motivation in check.
Do we pray because of what we want or because of who we want?
In other words, how selfish are your prayers?
Of course, we want our loved ones to suffer as little as possible, but what if that holds them back from struggling through issues that will help them grow? Of course, death stings, but it is also coupled with relief much of the time. Of course, we want to be able to support ourselves without asking for help, but what if we need to learn a lesson of biting off more than we can chew, or what if asking for helps teaches us about humility and helps us build trusting relationships?
When we pray because we want an outcome more than we want a relationship with God, are we truly trusting God’s authority? I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray specifically–I believe we should–but the focus has to be on God first. As we utter His name, we have to acknowledge His authority. We have to be willing to assume a humble position. We have to long to rely on Him.
If we pray with boldness, claiming God is who He says He is, we can take every specific need and request to Him, along with our praises and gratitude. Then, whatever the outcome, we know He’s present and He’s working. We deepen our trust with Him. We won’t always understand what He’s doing. We certainly won’t always like His timing. But our relationship with Him will grow.
Prayer works because it brings us closer to God. Prayer works because it demands we offers ourselves to God. Prayer works because our willingness to submit to God changes us, comforts us, challenges us, and encourages us to persevere in obedient faith.