Do we really know what we’re doing when we pray?
Answered prayer brings with it particular responsibilities. Be careful what you ask for.
On the one hand, answered prayer simply reflects the grace of God towards us. He shows us compassion, favor, and mercy. We request healing or help, and He (sometimes) gives it. It would be so easy to assume that the gift comes with no strings attached. Perhaps it does.
On the other hand, answered prayer often involves duty and obligation. Signs and wonders in Scripture frequently anticipated a testimony from the healed or a change of life from those affected. God’s action expects our response.
Prayer is far more than us trying to convince God that we (or others) deserve His attention. When we reduce prayer to a game of winners and losers—one for me; one for Him—we find ourselves keeping an unhealthy and harmful tally. Yet, we do it constantly. Furthermore, we recruit those with “the best records”—real prayer warriors—to pray on our behalf, unaware that prayer is neither arm-twisting on our part nor grudging reluctance on the Father’s part.
Prayer at its best derives from an exquisite intersection of both God’s will and ours. Neither He nor we are seeking to prevail. He’s not holding out with a mean spirit and we’re not trying to recruit Him to our cause. Rather, prayer is the powerful experience of shared will—and the desire for nothing less than that. And we acknowledge that as we receive from Him we will reciprocate with submission, allegiance, and service.
His gift forms our calling. His grace elicits our devotion. His answer becomes our invitation to action. Be careful what you pray for.
Have we stripped down prayer to little more than cosmic shopping lists and crisis calls? Or do we grasp that prayer is not what we do to God or for God but with God?
Prayer is not about the head but the heart. It’s less about our words and more about our will.
Nothing aligns our hearts more with the heart of God than authentic prayer. And nothing challenges our personal willfulness more than authentic prayer. If we would know Christ more deeply we would begin to pray quite differently—and carefully.