One night after I finished doing Bible study with my kids before bed, I asked them a simple question about prayer. We were going through the life of Joshua, and it was apparent that as Joshua remained faithful to the Lord, He heard Joshua’s prayers, vanquished the Israelites’ many enemies before them, and eventually brought them into the Promised Land. I wanted to see if the kids felt that we serve the same God who answered the prayers of His people so very long ago in the Bible.
“So, what do you think God does when you pray?” I asked.
“God hears us when we pray!” my daughter (7) yelled out.
“God answers our prayers!” my son (5) chimed in.
We talked about prayer a little bit more and I urged them to always continue praying, even in the times when it seems like God is very quiet and isn’t answering any of their prayers.
While I was tucking my son in, I could tell that he was deep in thought. As I pulled the covers over him, he turned to me and exclaimed, “Daddy, God answered my prayer!”
“Really? That’s great! What did you pray for?” I inquired.
My immediate thought was that he prayed for a Skylander figure (toy), or for something good to happen in Minecraft (video game), or that he would get a particular snack (food) at school; and that one of those came true recently.
But then with the biggest smile, he said this- “I prayed that God would help me memorize my Bible verses. And He did!”
As guilt and shame filled my mind upon me realizing that I didn’t give my own 5 year old son enough credit to think beyond toys, video games, or food, my spirits were immediately lifted knowing that he had just become a living example of 1 John 5:14, which says:
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Overjoyed. Seriously, I couldn’t have been more happy in that moment (3 John 1:4). Not only did he pray, trusting God to hear, but he prayed for something that is in alignment with God’s will for him, that he may keep God’s Word in his heart (Josh. 1:8, Col. 3:16). To have child-like faith is such a wonderful gift from God!
The doors that join his room to my daughter’s via the bathroom happened to be open, and she could hear our conversation. She came back to the room interested in how God answered her brother’s prayer, and we were able to talk more about what it means to align our hearts to God, and how doing so leads us to pray for the things that He wants for us. I was able to put them to sleep that night, comforted in knowing that they had begun to understand yet another important aspect of their relationship with their Heavenly Father.
If you’re not aware of this yet, I would say that 99% of God’s will for you is already written in His Word. In terms of His plans for you, there may be that 1% that is completely unique to your design, but everything else is in the Bible. He will never lead us into something that contradicts His Word, thus you can always check your prayers against Scripture. (Just be mindful of understanding the context of each Scripture as you do, otherwise you may end up with a really funky wardrobe or hairstyle.)
Everyone likes to be heard, especially by an all-powerful God. But God’s answers may not always be the ones we want to hear. It’s either going to be “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait” (i.e. silence). Fortunately in my son’s case, it was “Yes, I will help you!” If we are walking closely with the Lord, then regardless of the answer He gives us, we can live in peace, trusting that His response is the BEST response for us in that moment or situation (Rom. 8:28).
So what are you praying for or about these days? (Are you praying at all?) Do you feel like your prayers are being heard and answered? If not, do you believe your prayers are aligned to God’s will, plan, and purpose for you? If you’re not sure, have you compared them to what it says in the Bible?
Let’s not get into the bad habit of throwing random requests to a magic wish-granting genie in the sky; but rather, let’s commit to understanding God’s will for us by studying His Word, and thus aligning our prayers to His Will. It’s absolutely natural and normal for us to ask God for whatever is on our heart at the moment (whether it’s selfish or not), as that builds our relationship with Him as well. But at the same time, we have to learn more and more how to align our prayers to His will.
As we do so, we’ll see our relationship with our Heavenly Father transform, and we will walk with the utmost assurance that we’re being heard!
The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29
[November 3, 2015]