I realized recently that I unintentionally pray with low expectations.
The Bible is clear that "in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6). That's the easy part.
But do I believe God will answer my prayers, big or small? Meh.
Being totally transparent, some of my skeptical behaviour stems from perceived poor interactions with my earthly father.
I have a reminder toy on a bookshelf above my desk called a 'Jacob’s Ladder’, consisting of wooden blocks held together by ribbons. When the ladder is held at one end, a visual illusion causes the blocks to appear to cascade down the strings. Jacob's Ladder (the name) comes from a vision of a biblical ladder to Heaven, with angels ascending and descending (Genesis 28:12). I remember being fascinated by the ladder’s mysterious workings as a child. I also remember being angry and puzzled after my father said “No” when I asked him to buy it for me.
Now that I’m older, I bought the toy for myself out of defiance when I saw it in a toy store, remembering that moment of hurt from my childhood.
But I’m forgetting that I can make a request that is incompatible with my father’s will. We all make requests that are superfluous or can even hurt us if fulfilled.
I didn’t need a Jacob’s Ladder. My earthly father knew this. Saying “No” was not a rejection of me.
I am learning that a “No” can be a Godly direction in my life. My response to this guidance is what will keep me in His will. But I’m also learning that one “No” doesn’t mean everything will be “No.”
Recently, I requested prayer for a health situation we were facing as a family. It involved access to a machine, clinical care, and testing that we were told would take over a year to even be considered. God answered THAT DAY, answering all three things to fulfillment before the night even descended.
I was surprised that I was surprised that God answered.
And to top it all off, the scripture verse from my devotion that day said: “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 43:13).
I think I may have got this prayer thing wrong. I must commit to God to make ALL my requests known to Him, no matter what it is or how minute the situation may seem.
I will discover God’s direction and will in my life, and those around me, by watching Him answer those requests in time. I must have faith to trust God for every answer, even if I don’t understand it.
Then we will see Heaven descend on our lives.
Kind of like that Jacob’s Ladder…