Tonight in prayer meeting we looked a some passages of scripture that showed how Christians or believers in great need prayed. We looked in Acts 4 and Nehemiah 9. If you look in those passages, you will see that the prayers start with acknowledging who God is and what He has done in an act of worship and praise. Whether it’s the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day or the Jewish followers of Jesus in Acts 4, we see a pattern of praise before petition.
Brian asked us what can we learn when we look at out own prayer pattern in light of this biblical pattern. The agreement is that we and most people spend just a little time praising God for what He has done and a lot of time praying about our problems.
This is what I learned looking as the Holy Spirit searched my heart. I often pray with a level of doubt and a lack of expectancy. There’s a common phrase often used in prayers that while is righteous and awesome, being prayed by Jesus Himself, it often leads us to hold back hope. “But not my will, but Your will be done.” This is an awesome prayer that I believe only Jesus prayed perfectly. I so often fail when I engage in that type of prayer. It comes out “Not my will, but Yours.”, but in my heart it’s more like “Not my will, but Yours, but it probably isn’t Your will or it very well could not be” The last part of my version has some truth to it but taken down a sinful path in can produce doubt and even despair.
You see, the reason why it’s good to flip our prayers around is to see that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift as the James tell us in his letter. We can acknowledge that God delights in giving His children good things. Are we promised there will be trouble in this world? Yes we are. Jesus Himself made that promise. But we are not promised only trouble. A follower of Jesus will not have an easy life. And often God will give us the request of our prayers in a way we don’t understand at the time and may not understand until we are in heaven, if even then. But He promises that if we trust in His will, He will provide exactly what we need at the right time. That may be what we ask for here on Earth or the comfort needed in the promise of the future glory of being with Jesus in the New Heaven and New Earth. Sometimes He won’t just give us our request in a different way than we thought, but He will actually just say no. Like a parent who says “No” to the child who asks for candy and the parent knows the child does not need the candy. God knows your need. He richly provides. He “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”.