What Do You Expect When You Pray?
When you make a bold prayer, what do you expect? Do you anticipate God will answer your request, or do you brace yourself for disappointment? More to the point, are you more surprised when your prayers are answered or surprised when they’re not?
Some people pray with little expectation and are surprised when God answers their prayers. If you’re in that camp, don’t be dismayed. In the book of Acts, the church prayed earnestly for Peter’s release from prison, yet they were surprised when he showed up at their door. I’m sure their faith grew as a result and then they prayed with greater confidence.
By God’s goodness, I’m usually in the other category: expecting God to answer my prayers and shocked if he doesn’t. That’s not to suggest I enjoy a stellar record of answered prayer, but I see enough amazing results when I pray that I expect positive answers.
But for those times when things don’t turn out as I prayed:
- Sometimes I see that God had a better outcome in mind
- Sometimes I accept that God’s timing is different than mine
- Sometimes I realize I prayed with the wrong perspective (mine, not God’s)
- And sometimes I’m just perplexed.
That’s what faith is: taking a risk, expecting the unlikely, hoping for a miracle. When God says “Yes!” we thank him—and our faith grows. And when God says “No!” we wonder why—and our faith grows.
The only time we lose is when we offer him weak, wimpy words of no real consequence or don’t even bother to pray at all. Then our faith can’t grow.
May our prayers connect us with God and increase our faith.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.