Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”1 And so we ask!
Why, then, does God not “do it”? Let’s be honest—many times, God does not give us what we ask. So . . . did Jesus really mean what he said? Yes, he did. What is the problem then? Are we not praying properly? Well . . . probably. 😯 Most people mistakenly believe that the purpose of prayer is to tell God what we need, but that’s not it at all. Jesus said, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”2 So, if God knows what we need, why bother telling him? Exactly. That’s not the purpose of prayer! Hmm. 🤔
So, what is the purpose of prayer? I think there are several reasons to pray, but one is to find out what God wants for us. We are inclined to ask for what we want, but that may not be what God wants. And so God may answer our prayers with a firm No. It seems to me the key to effective praying is to figure out what to ask for. Paul wrote, “For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”3 That’s why we often get a No from God. The Spirit intercedes for us. And that’s a good thing. Because God knows better than we. He created us and has a very specific plan for our lives and loves us more than anything in the world. Of course, God knows better! 🤨
We just don’t believe it! 🤪That’s why we are constantly telling God what we need and what to do! Then we get upset and frustrated, impatient and angry with God when he does not answer our prayers as we have instructed him to! Perhaps we should pray that God would show us how to pray! But wait a minute, he did!🤓 Jesus modeled it when he prayed to his Father, “Not my will, but yours, be done.”4 and then he taught the disciples to pray, “Your will be done.”5
So there it is. We should pray for that. But what that means is we are willing to give up what we want. Our prayers should be something like this: Lord, I want this to happen, but what I really want is to want what you want to happen. So, whatever happens, help me to understand that because of your great love for me, it is the best thing to happen.
Telling God what we need is okay, but we should not think that we are telling him something he doesn’t already know. For “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”6 So, if our needs are not being met, perhaps it is because God knows we do not really need that—which means that we probably need to let that need go! 🙃And ask God to change our desires. And he will gladly do that.
When we begin to want what God wants—which, by the way, is the best possible thing to want—here’s what can happen: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.”7
In other words, when we want what God wants, we get what we ask for!🙂
1John 14:14 2Matthew 6:8 3Romans 8:26 4Luke 22:42 5Matthew 6:10 6Philippians 4:19 7Psalm 37:4-5