What if asking God for the right things is only the beginning of powerful, effective prayer? How do we position ourselves to receive answers to powerful, effective prayer?
It's always the same. Frozen blueberries often top off breakfast at our house. He starts spooning them into his mouth and I begin the countdown. After a few minutes, without fail, I hear the declaration: "Mommy, I'm COLD!" (Frozen fruit in winter will do that to a person.) "Can you wawm me up?"
I hold up his hoodie and suggest that he puts it on. I know that sweaters have the ability to keep one warm while still allowing the use of your arms. His response is always the same: "Noooooooooo!! I don't want to weaw that! I want a "wawm blanket" or a "wawm hug" instead."
I couldn't help but laugh. I'm not opposed to either, but I know he needs to finish his breakfast and for that he will need the use of his arms. The hoodie was hanging on the back of his chair as He continued to complain about being cold. The untapped solution to his problem remained only inches away.
And I'm thinking about powerful, effective prayer. And I have to wonder, are our hearts positioned to receive the answers God is willing to provide?
I'm reminded of some answers to prayers I have prayed that came in unexpected and unlikely packaging.
Lord, change my husband. I asked God to do this shortly after we got married. Thankfully, God had mercy on my pride. He answered like this: You first. There may have been some "discussion" on my part. Something like this: I'm not perfect but it's obvious who needs to change more... Followed by something like: Yes, it's obvious. You first.
Lord, we are not asking for an easy time. We are asking you to do whatever it takes to make us more like you. A friend and I prayed late one night after our Bible study had ended years ago when my dad was sick. In the months following, my dad passed away. There was much uncertainty but God was faithful again and again. He can't by anything but. In the years following, we moved from our first home we'd had as a married couple. I left my small group that had walked me through the hardest season of my life. I cried. I didn't want to go. I felt uprooted. Shaky. Uncertain. In the years following, our family grew. And so did the opportunities for God to use whoever and whatever it would take to make me more like Him.
Lord, make me want to love you more than anything else. God revealed much over this past year that was in the way of loving Him more than anything: the desire for control while neglecting to exercise self-control, giving in to the urgent while neglecting the important, noticing specks while neglecting my planks, and words and thoughts tainted with judgement, insecurity, comparison and criticism. Those are just a few of the highlights. And bonus, I'm fully confident He's not done answering this one.
We all have expectations of how, when and where our prayers will be answered. The way God answered those prayers met none of my expectations. When they don't go our way, and on our timeline, well, we assume our prayers not working. We forget that He is God and we are not. When prayers are not being answered the way I expected or want, I go back to His Word, because there I will find the Truth.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
He is God. I am not. That means his thoughts are not mine because He is God and I am not. His ways are not mine because He is God and I am not. His timing is not mine because He is God and I am not.
Powerful prayer begins with asking God according to His will, and continues with willingness for Him to use whatever He wants to answer.
I want to see Him continue to answer prayers I've asked according to His will. This is what I ask Him today, and I invite you to do the same:
Lord, I confess that I want things done my way. Forgive me for thinking I know better than you. Put a "Yes Lord" in my Spirit for your will, however it may come. You are faithful, trustworthy, perfect and loving so I can trust you. Give me the desire to trust you wholeheartedly because you will make my paths straight. In Jesus name, amen.
If you find yourself frozen this week, be ready for God to "wawm" you up any way He chooses!
It is an easy thing to argue from precedent because it makes everything simple, but it is a risky thing to do. Give God “elbow room”; let Him come into His universe as He pleases. If we confine God in His working to religious people or to certain ways, we place ourselves on an equality with God.