The Wonder of Prayer
Prayer is truly an amazing thing. To be invited, even called, to come into the presence of the ruler of the universe. To come with confidence, knowing that He has invited me to be a part of His work in His Kingdom. To know that He hears my prayers and delights in my worship. These are not things to be taken lightly. And yet, so often I wonder what I should actually be praying.
What does it look like to “Pray in Faith”?
Prayer is something I have wrestled with often in my life as a believer. I love to pray for people. There is a sense of wonder in the reality that I can pray for those far away, and God uses my prayers to work in their lives. What a wonderful mystery. And yet, it is the mysterious aspect which I have wrestled with. In spite of the model Christ left with His disciples, I face the question often, as I pray for myself and for others, “What should I pray? What does it look like to pray in faith?”
At one time a few years ago, I was struggling with the question of what it means to pray in faith. So often I would pray, laying out before the Lord my heart’s desires in a certain situation, and then finish my prayer with , “Thy will be done.” Was this a cop-out? Was this my little loophole to get around a lack of faith that God would answer my prayer?
“Thy Will Be Done” : an expression of Faith
I discussed this with a godly older friend. We came to the conclusion that praying “Thy Will be done” requires just as much “faith” as laying out confidently before God exactly what I believed should be done. Here are some of the principles which we discussed to come to this conclusion:
Faith is believing who God is and that HE has the power to do what He has promised. (Rom 4:20-21) Faith is not MAGIC. It is not a POWER which makes prayer work and delivers us what we want.
Because of this I am only exercising Faith if I am trusting Him for something He has actually promised. Faith is NOT believing He will give me something I REALLY want.
The only things I can KNOW that God has truly promised me are those things written in His Word. Those promises I can pray with absolute confidence and faith.
When I do not know what God’s plan or purpose in a situation is, I pray with faith when I trust HIM to know exactly what the best thing to do is. Faith means that I welcome an answer I don’t like, or understand because I trust Him more than my own judgement.
Faith trusts in God’s goodness and character, just as much as His power. Faith is believing God has the power to do what I am asking…but trusting that He is good when He does not use His power the way I want.
To trust God when He does not give us the deep desires of our heart, is to have true faith. Satan had reason to doubt Job’s “fear of God” if it was based solely on God making Job’s life easy. (Job 1: 9-11) He was silenced when Job demonstrated His loyalty to God in spite of the prayers God did not seem to answer.
Faith entrusts itself to a good Father who wants to hear the prayers of His children. Faith believes that God cares, that He listens and that He has called us to bring our needs to Him. Faith understands that our needs are far deeper than the things which will make life easier or pleasant. Faith brings our deepest needs of forgiveness and sanctification to the Lord as well as that of daily bread and other “pressing’ needs. (Matt 6:9-13)
When Jesus modeled prayer for His disciples He did not call on them to ignore their practical needs. They were to pray for their daily bread. They were also to pray for forgiveness, and for God’s enabling to walk in His ways, not Satan’s. To pray in faith is to believe God that the practical needs of our lives are not our deepest. It is to trust that He is at work to make us more like Jesus and to extend His Kingdom.
Trusting God’s Promises… Surrendering to His Will
I recently read this quote in a Facebook post. It was written by “Nate’s Dad”. Nate was a young man who was facing brain cancer treatment.
“From the beginning of this trial, we were faced with one of the most difficult balancing acts that I know of. The first thing is to rest in God’s promises, trusting Him for answered prayer, and the second thing is to surrender the outcome completely. If all we do is say “thy will be done,” this can be indistinguishable from a pagan stoicism. If all we do is claim God’s promises, without surrendering, what we are doing is trying to dictate to God. But holding the two together is a work of the Holy Spirit.
The best I can figure out, the thing that indicates this balance is happening is that you carry the thing as a weight, not a worry. A weight must be carried, and it must be carried across the finish line. But it can be carried. A worry just chews you up and you can’t carry anything anywhere. And so we thank God for all His promises, and for the arms to hold them.” – Nate’s Dad
To me this is a beautiful statement of true Faith in God. It is also a picture of the tension of holding onto God’s absolute power and trusting His decision of how to use that power. I believe this is the faith Abraham was commended for.
“Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Rom 4: 20-21