Pray with Belief
Raincoat, rain boots, rain hat and umbrella wide open. Essentials for a rainy day that old mother Mary was wearing as she shuffled her way down the dusty road to church for a prayer meeting. It was a small town that relied solely on the field crop’s fruit. A drought had been upon the area for months now and the pastor decided it was time to get together and pray that God would bring the rain. In 95-degree weather mother Mary knew that if the church was going to pray for rain that she better come prepared for the rain. That night they prayed for rain and only 30 minutes into their prayer meeting they heard pitter patter outside. It was rain! Everyone had walked to church since it was a rural town and soon after their rejoicing they fell silent because the only one who was prepared to walk back into the rain was mother Mary.
This little story was told to me at church one day and it has always stuck. Why do we so often pray for something and yet never get prepared for it to be answered? Why don’t we pray with expectancy? God has really wrecked my idea on prayer recently. I don’t know if you are anything like me, but for the past couple of years I would treat prayer as something more like a wish list. Something I would like to have happen, but never actually believing that it could be done. I was just like one of those church members asking God to bring the rain, but not preparing for rain because deep down I didn’t really think it would happen.
George Mueller had an orphanage full of hungry children. He would ask the housemother to take the 300 kids into the dining room and prepare the table. He would sit with the children and thank God for the food that he believed God could provide and then he would wait. A little while later a knock would be at the door and there stood the baker with 300 leftover pieces of bread and the milkman with 10 gallons of milk both wanting to give him the food because they knew it would spoil in a day and needed someone to take it. Here is another example of someone praying and believing that God can do big things.
After this mind shift of thinking I began to pray differently. I began to truly believe that God CAN answer my prayer. Now pause for a minute. I want to clarify. I believe there is a big different between praying like God CAN and praying saying God WILL. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” I believe our prayer does have power, but ultimately we aren’t God and His ways are not ours. We may pray that God would heal our friend of cancer, but what if He doesn’t? Did we not pray hard enough? Did we not believe hard enough or should we have demanded God for our desires? No. Bad things happen because we live in an imperfect world and God sometimes allows things to happen so that He will be glorified in it all and we will be able to become more like him in the way we think and see this world!
There is a poem that describes this illustration well. The Tapestry Poem talks about how life moments are like lines of string making up an entire tapestry. We see the backside of the tapestry, a mess of thread, but the Lord sees the front side that reveals a beautiful picture. Those moments that we ask “why didn’t you answer my prayer the way I wanted” are just as important in the picture as the other moments. They all have a purpose.
In those moments we trust in Him and know that He is faithful! J.D. Greear, a pastor and author from North Carolina, once explained it this way, “In the Bible, faith, is never just a positive emotion toward God that we work up, a presumptuous optimism that God will give us what we want if we just believe it enough; according to the Bible, faith is a response to what God has revealed. So in order to have faith, we have to first know what God has revealed.” Another way he says it is, “The prayers that are heard by heaven are the ones that start in heaven.”
Just take a look at the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew 6:9 Jesus is teaching how to pray. He says, “Pray like this…Your kingdom come, Your will be done…” Not ours, but God’s will be done!
– Ephesians 4:3-“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
– 1 John 5:14-15-“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to HIS WILL he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.”
We can pray with confidence that He CAN move and we can prepare ourselves for God to answer those prayers. Praying with belief begins with prayer. American author, E.M Bounds wrote, “Prayer at the end of the day is the expression of the soul’s dependence upon God. Fundamentally prayer says, ‘I need you.’ Therefore, every day spent in prayerlessness is a day spent in functional atheism.” Pray often while living a life that is fully dependent on Him and pray with belief while believing God is powerful enough to do the impossible and trustworthy enough to have a plan even when things don’t happen the way you have imagined.