We Don’t Know Who God Is
Most of our problems with prayer boil down to not knowing who God is. If we really knew His love for us and how much He wants to give to us, we would have no problem making time with Him. This is not to put guilt on anyone who feels they are not praying enough, but to create an desire in each of us to figure out who He really is.
We Judge People Based on What We See
I attended a men’s group for a few years that was run by a man that came across to many as being self-absorbed and egotistical. All his statements were definitive and at times offensive. He would share how he was the best men’s speaker around and that the men who came to his group had made the best decision of their lives. A lot of wives took offense of him, and several men would distance themselves from him.
I think these people who have a problem with him didn’t really know him well. As I was in the group, I began to see that this man would do anything for the guys in the group. He was extremely smart and had a reason for even the simplest things he did in the group. He had a passion for seeing men come alive in all who God made them to be, and everything that got in the way of that was ferociously attacked. People may have disagreed with his methods, but I doubt you could find anyone who had his same heart for helping men.
We Judge God Based on Circumstances
What does this have to do with prayer? If you look at people’s actions without knowing their hearts or reasons, you are making judgement on half-truths. The point is that we do the same thing with God. I had a comment on this site last week from a man who hated God and the reason He gave was how babies in parts of the world were dying of starvation. He determined God could do something about it, but since He didn’t God wasn’t worth being followed.
This rationalization may be extreme for many of us reading this article, but we also make similar decisions about God. Something happens to us, maybe a prayer wasn’t answered as we would have liked, and we form opinions about how God views us or who He is.
The Brothers Judged Their Father
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a good example of this. The younger son was tired of working for his father. He runs aways and wastes his life on things that didn’t last. He becomes ruined and hopes that his father will bail him out. He figures that if he can apologize maybe his dad would take him on as a slave (Luke 15:17-20). He can’t imagine the truth of what his father really wanted, which was to restore him as a son and celebrate his return.
The older son also didn’t view his dad properly. He only saw his dad as a strict taskmaster who must be followed. He worked hard to hopefully earn the inheritance. He didn’t see that his father already saw all of it as belonging to this son. He didn’t see the joy the father had in him (Luke 15:29-30). Judging God’s heart by what happens to us in this life will lead us astray. We need to go to God to have Him tell us how He views us.
The story of Job is another example. Obviously many hardships happened to him. All of his friends assumed God was punishing him or at least hated him for some reason. They had it all wrong, God was extremely pleased with Job (Job 2:3). He was showing off how amazing Job was. Now we might have a hard time seeing that is how we want God to treat us, but the Bible is clear how God felt about Job.
God Wants to Correct Our Misconceptions of Him
If you are having a hard time believing what God says about you and about how prayer works, give Him opportunities to reveal His heart to you. He doesn’t have to explain Himself to you, but He does like to correct our misconceptions of Him. Do you believe that all things really work together for the good for you (Romans 8:28)? Do you believe God really wants to lavish you with good things (Ephesians 1:7-9)? Do you believe you can ask whatever you want and it will be given to you (John 16:24 & John 14:14)? Do you believe you can do all things that strengthen you (Philippians 4:13)? Do you believe you will do even greater things than Jesus (John 14:12)?
Maybe life is telling a different story. Faith is not about what we can see. Life had told Abraham for many years that there was no way he would have a son. We need to hear what God says about us and hold onto that to live the life He has for us.