21 Apr Why Don’t We Pray More?
Ben asked a question in his message a few weeks ago that still catches my attention: What if your relationship with God was measured solely by your prayer life? I’m thankful that this isn’t the standard we’re judged against, because I would most definitely not meet the mark. I’m not winning any merit badges for having a model prayer life.
And make no mistake: this isn’t some #humblebrag or an attempt to fish for compliments. I’m very bad at prayer, and I shared that with my home group after Ben’s message. And I have no shame admitting that (though considering the subject, I probably should).
As I listened to Ben’s message, I began searching for the reason behind my attitude toward prayer. Why would we bother God with our petty needs while he’s busy with world peace and nuclear proliferation and finding a quarterback for the Broncos? My request is so small that it doesn’t really matter that I pray about it. Or, it’s so big that there’s no chance it will happen.
But I think there’s a deeper reason behind avoiding a healthy prayer life: fear. We’re afraid of God’s answer. We’re afraid that the desire of our heart won’t be fulfilled. We’re afraid that what we’re asking for is too big. We’re afraid of our plans changing. And many times, this fear leads to disappointment, turning once avid prayers into cynical shells with walled-off desires and the inability to ask for, much less expect, big things from God. But enough about me…
In reality, this fear doesn’t line up with Scripture. In fact, Jesus teaches the opposite. Quite clearly, Jesus tells us
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7: 7-8)
Some people take this verse to mean that God is a heavenly vending machine, freely distributing all manner of goodies with little regard for whether the things we pray about line up with His will or plan. In response, another group of people recoil at this notion and relegate God to a spiritless schoolmarm who can’t be bothered by our troubles and dreams and wishes.
Practically speaking, I think there’s a space in the middle of these two extremes: a position that prays for wild, audacious things, but holds these desires loosely; a posture that’s willing to have our minds changed, but brings our request to God anyway.
It’s time to dream big dreams and ask big things because we serve a big God. As Ben shared a few weeks ago, we serve a God who wants us to ask. We may not get the answer that we want or expect, but I’m learning that prayer isn’t always about the product, but the process. It’s time to change, and it’s time to pray.
The Bible tells us “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4: 2). So what are you praying for today?