It was not too long ago that we had four drivers in our family, and two cars. Our third car had just died a slow death. One car was fully employed by my husband, who commuted long hours to work, so this changed the ratio to one car with three drivers, all employed. Throw in a car commute to school for two students, and the resulting household stress level was palpable.
As I was driving my son home one day, my fifth pickup/drop off of the day, he enthusiastically suggested, “Mom, why don’t we just pray for more cars!” I had been praying specifically for one car, for months. Nothing came through, despite tremendous low-budget effort on my husband’s behalf. We really needed two more cars, but I figured I had to budget with God, too.
First things first, I thought. We needed one car before praying for another. I prayed for a car for Daughter #1 as I drove, out loud. My son indignantly interrupted my prayer, saying, diplomatically, in his own words, that my prayer was lame. “Mom, come on, God can do better than that!” He then took over the prayer, vehemently dissatisfied with my handling of it; “God, we pray for cars. Lots and lots of cars. To fill our driveway so that everyone has one when he needs one. We know you can do this and thank you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”
My son indignantly interrupted my prayer, saying, diplomatically, in his own words, that my prayer was lame.
Here it is, just two months later, and there are five cars jockeying for parking spaces in our driveway-turned-parking lot. The first two acquisitions came relatively easily at some expense to our family, but they met our needs. The third was handed to our faith-filled son on a platter, sold to him for $100 to transfer the title, by friends. You should see the smile on his face. “Hey, Mom, remember our prayer for lots and lots of cars? We got ‘em!” He was tickled and even cocky. Oh, my, we did. I hadn’t even stopped to thank and praise God until he pointed this out. Oh, me of little faith.
Imagine the fun the guy will have throughout his life as he prays his big prayers and sees God answer them, one by one.
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”–James 5:13-20
Do we really believe that God has limitless resources and is perched to give them to us to use to bless us and those around us?
We can pray and pray, but if we doubt that God will answer, for whatever reason, our prayers and diluted. They are chants and wish lists recited by rote. God will answer some. But not like He will when we really believe that He is listening and is a loving Father who wants what best for His beloved child. In Luke 11:9-13, Jesus addresses our doubt;
“‘So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’”
Sometimes The Holy Spirit may be whispering “Be more specific,” or “Pray bigger, I have much more than that for you,” or even “It’s coming, but keep praying, don’t give up! The time is not quite right yet.” But we don’t hear. As He is encouraging our faith and perseverance, we can miss His voice as we check off our list and close our Bibles in satisfaction that we have prayed our lists well.
We tend to listen less when we are plowing through a list.
There is nothing wrong with prayer lists, in themselves. They are tools that can keep us on track. We list our needs and wants and then talk with God about them. Even though God knows what we need, He wants us to ask Him. In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus explained, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Jesus’ implication is that even though God knows what we need, we will ask Him, anyway. He says “your Father knows…before you ask Him.”
Our respect says “I am shooting high and can’t wait to see what you deem best for me.”
Raise your expectations of God. He is so far ahead of us that He must chuckle at our pleading for a small cookie when He owns a worldwide chain of bakeries. He must also be saddened when our request is for a crumb. He has more than crumbs for us! Pray bigger and see what happens. Then thank and Him and praise Him in delight for what He does. Psalm 147:11 says, “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Put your hope in His love and He will delight in you!