Do you ever wonder why the typical prayer meeting yields so few results? I do. I grapple with it continuously. I am certain the problem cannot be with an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God, so it must be with us and our prayers.
After all these years, do we still not know how to pray? I believe that as best we know how, we do pray according to God’s Word and in the Spirit both earnestly and honestly. Yet, more often than not, we see little or no results. Why is that?
Could it be that a conflict of interest is the cause of our poor success rate? Perhaps we do not correctly discern the will of God in our circumstances—be it illness, financial woes, or troubled relationships? The Word clearly says we are to count it all joy when we fall into various trials1—the trials of our faith that make us stronger Christians and shape us into the image of Christ.2
A closer look might reveal that most of our prayers are asking God to change or remove those circumstances—which are possibly the same circumstances He Himself orchestrated for our shaping. If that is the case, are those prayers not counterproductive to His plan to mature us and make us like Jesus?
Of course they are! We may simply have our eyes on the wrong goal. We want the good life—abundant and carefree—and plead with God to keep it so. Yet, God wants us to grow up spiritually and be useful to Him in reaching a lost world. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest here.
Jesus came to earth clothed in flesh to provide for God a human body in which to walk, talk, teach, and heal—thus displaying to the world the good nature of our Creator. He perfectly modeled His Father’s character of love, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. Then, sacrificing His life for the sake of others, Jesus set the example for all future believers to follow.
Therefore, every born-again Christian is called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus by yielding their own bodies as a living sacrifice for God to work through on earth.3 Our trials and troubles become the opportunities for God to do just that, making the difficulties we face today the will of God for us.4
We would all probably admit that some scriptures don’t seem to work for us. For instance, this one: “If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”5 Perhaps we have been tempted to question the validity of this scripture based on our past experience. Yet, if a trial is God’s will for us and we pray for Him to remove it, we are asking against His will rather than according to His will.
Counterproductive prayers could very well be the reason we are not getting what we ask of God.
Once we understand this, we will still pray over our troubles and woes, but at the end of each prayer we will deliberately give God our permission to do as He sees fit.6 The prayer so perfectly modeled by our Savior, “Yet not my will, but yours be done,” will become our prayer too.7
In that place of total surrender to God’s will, we put our lives into the hands of a loving Heavenly Father and accept what He chooses to give or not to give. While it may not be what we want to hear, that is where we will find rest for our souls and more answers to our prayers. ~ Janie Kellogg
1James 1:2; 2Romans 8:29; 3Romans 12:1; 41 Peter2:21; 51 John 5:14-15; 6Luke 10:21; 7Luke 22:42