For that past year I’ve been praying for something God hasn’t given me yet. Has that happened to you too? I’ve stormed the gates of heaven. I’ve knocked on God’s doors. I’ve claimed His promises, and I’ve even fasted. But I haven’t gotten the answer I hoped for. Nope. Not yet. Not even close.
A year ago, a uniquely gifted and precious young woman I love like a daughter told me she no longer believed in God. I did my best to listen with an open mind and share my own perspective graciously. I kept loving her and kept praying, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t hard to watch.
I knew God was calling me keep watch and to love His lost Girl. So I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Along the way I’ve learned some things: that there’s always joy to be found in obeying God and loving the people He puts in our lives, no matter what. Because love is always worth it. I’ve also learned some things about prayer itself.
Prayer grows our relationship with God.
More than getting a result we want from God, prayer is a process of growing a relationship with Him. Although in this verse, Jesus was warning His disciples not to make prayer a show to impress others, it also reminds me that prayer is a dialogue between me and God:
When we pray, we have an opportunity to express our hearts to God and hear His. Our father sees and hears us, and we grow closer to Him. That is reward in itself.
Prayer gives us an opportunity to surrender.
I cannot control whether or when this dear girl returns home to her heavenly Father. I can only choose to surrender my own heart and longings to God and say, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Friend, I know you also pray for people and situations you have no power to change.
Let’s affirm our trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness. When we pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” we let go of control and leave our lives and our loved ones in God’s capable and powerful hands
Prayer invites God to change me
Of course we hope God will change people and situations as we pray, and miraculously, mysteriously, He does do that. But when the answer we long for is slow in coming, let’s remember this: Prayer not only invites God to change my circumstances; it’s an avenue for Him to change me.
Will I choose to rest in God’s sovereignty? Will I choose love when people don’t respond as I’d like? Will I choose joy even when my heart hurts because I’m not seeing God work as I’d like? Will I let God have His way in me and trust Him no matter what is going on around me?
I want to say yes to all of these, but it’s not always easy, is it? That’s when God moves me to pray along with the Psalmist:
Friend, I don’t know what unfulfilled hopes you’ve prayed for, but I know they can hurt.
Maybe you’ve prayed for a baby you never got to hold, a job that didn’t materialize, or a healing that hasn’t happened. Perhaps your prodigal hasn’t come home yet. May I encourage you to keep going into that inner room with your Father? Let’s rest our faith on God’s faithfulness and goodness, not on specific results. Let’s find joy today in remembering we have a Father who loves us perfectly and hears us always.
Note: Prayer is one of my favorite topics. Here’s last week’s post in case you missed it: