linking with Five Minute Friday at katemotaung.com – write for five minutes on a given prompt, which today is “expect”
What can we expect when we pray?
We were discussing this question at my small group last night, and from that discussion, as well as other conversations in the past, there seem to be two extremes of views on this:
- God will do what he wants anyway. Prayer is about getting closer to him. It changes us but we shouldn’t expect it to change the situation.
- Prayer makes a difference. Jesus said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14) so we should expect that God will move supernaturally in response to our prayers.
It’s difficult. I’ve seen too much damage caused by the view that we should expect our prayers to be answered as we want. The implication is that if your prayer is not answered, you don’t have enough faith. The person who requested prayer is left not only struggling with their original issue, but now also beating themselves up for their “lack of faith”. In the majority of cases I just don’t believe that’s true.
But, despite all this, I don’t really believe the first view either because I have seen prayer change situations- instant answers that could not be coincidence.
So, what can we expect?
I think, with God, we’re never going to know exactly what to expect. We’d like it to be predictable, to understand how it works, to know how to pray to get what we want, or else to accept that it doesn’t really change things. But because God is God, it’s not going to work like that.
I think we can expect that God knows us and the situation we’re bringing to him, we can expect that he cares, we can expect that he has power to do what he wants to do and we can expect him to be faithful to his promises.
Beyond that, I’m not sure. Like everything for me this year, it all comes down to surrender.