Praying for Our Needs
In Limiting God
Jan. 4, 2016 at 9:50 a.m.
Praying for Our Needs
So many times when we pray it is for our needs. We do so believing that God will supply our needs, as He says He will. Mark 11:24 says “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Philippians 4:6 admonishes us “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.” Paul also says in 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
In other places we’re told that if we have faith, God will answer our prayers. In still other places we’re told if we ask God’s will, our prayers will be answered. To illustrate the latter, we’re often told about Jesus’s prayer in the Garden, that He be spared the agony of suffering on the cross. It seems we are being told to pray, to petition God, but with the reservation that He may not answer what we’re asking for if it’s not His will. The problem is that we don’t know for certain just what God’s will is.
I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis’s book Letters to Malcom Chiefly on Prayer. He says on page 61, “If you envisage a refusal as possible, how can you have simultaneously a perfect confidence that what you ask will not be refused? If you have that confidence, how can you take refusal into account at all?”
It has taken me many years to come to an understanding of prayer, although I’m sure there is much more I need to learn. The first experience was many years ago when I had been praying so fervently that my husband, Raylon, would stop drinking. Finally, one morning I told God that by asking Him to make Raylon stop drinking, I was telling Him what to do with Raylon’s life, and I had no right to order God around. Not long afterward, as I was sitting at the kitchen table praying, Raylon came through on the way to the bathroom, where he threw up. When I asked if he was sick because we had had a lot of rich food during our New Year’s open house, he replied, “No. I’m sick because I’ve had too much to drink. I told God that I had spent all our money on whiskey, and it made me so sick, that what I have been doing is so stupid.” He stopped drinking, cold.
A similar prayer and relinquishment came when I was praying for our youngest son, Taylor. He was living far away in a quite large city. He was in with a crowd of kids that were not doing anything illegal, but there was a lot of drinking and partying. I just felt it was not the right atmosphere for Taylor and prayed God would send someone into his life to turn him back to Him. Again, God reminded me I had no right to tell Him what He should do with my son’s life. So my prayer changed to thanksgiving for whatever it was God was doing to accomplish what He wanted for my son’s life.
I could never have dreamed of the results. He married a lovely young woman who is part of a huge Irish Catholic family. Her brother is a priest. While they aren’t involved in a church, as yet, they both are aware of God and believe in Him.
There are times when we pray for something that is not the real need. Years ago I read about a woman who was married to a professor in a Christian university. They had five children who all needed new shoes to start to school. So she prayed continually for the money to buy the shoes. None was forthcoming. One day, a fellow professor heard about her prayer and asked the woman what she needed. The woman replied, “Money.”
“Oh,” the professor said, “Can your kids wear money to school?” Of course not,the woman replied. “Well then,” the man asked, “What is it you really need?” When the woman told him shoes, he said, “Get the kids and come on. I’m going to buy them some shoes.”
More recently, I prayed the scripture from Heb. 11:1: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” I just knew that what had happened was not God’s will, so I was praying that he would answer my prayer. He finally helped me to realize that I was having faith in an outcome or circumstance, not in His will. Romans 8:28 is similar. I had to let God determine “good.” Well, God didn’t give me what I had prayed for; He did much, much better. In fact, I now am glad He didn’t answer what I prayed for, else I would have missed out on a lot of blessings and opportunities.
Back to the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. His prayer was a struggle between his head and his heart. His head knew the terrific agony he would suffer on the cross. But his heart wanted to do the will of His Father, regardless of what it cost Him. When I struggle between the desires of my heart and my head, I know that Jesus knows exactly what I’m going through because He’s been there.