Sunday, December 9, 2012

Expectations and Prayer

I recently wrote a post about Expectations.The main focus of that article was having the proper view of our expectations--a reality check. Interestingly--and I'm sure not coincidentally--I heard a couple of sermons from two different pastors talking about expectations from another perspective: Prayer.

This is an area in which the Lord has been teaching me the past few months. I have this tendency to only bring really big stuff to the Lord in prayer and try not to "bother" God with too many personal requests. Anyone else ever feel like that? I pray for others' needs while pushing my own needs off to the side. I may bring up a request every once in a while and meekly ask God if He might--when He has time--answer it? Then I would be afraid that if I ask for something too much it might come across as demanding or pushy.

So the Lord laid on my heart a few months ago that I should begin to pray fervently for a specific request I have. I should boldly and regularly ask God for an answer to this prayer request. I'll be's not easy. I suppose it has something to do with my upbringing of being trained to not "beg" for things. However, this fervent prayer is a learning process which has a purpose. 

Let me tie all of this together now: Expectations and Prayer. Acts 3:1-10 is about Peter and John healing the lame begger. This begger was blind from birth and he was carried down to the temple each day where begged for money to live. The beggar saw Peter and John and asked for money. What the lame man really needed was a pair of good legs. But, the begger kept asking for money. 

But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. 
But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of 
Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”
Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand 
and helped him up. And as he did, 
the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened.  
He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! 
Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, 
he went into the Temple with them.
All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God.  
When they realized he was the lame beggar 
they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, 
they were absolutely astounded!
Acts 3:4-10

You see, the begger had a real need but he didn't ask for what he really needed. He just kept doing what he always did--begging for money. Granted, he did need money but his real problem was his legs. It appears the begger was setting his expectations too low. The Apostles saw what his real need was.

Obviously, God doesn't need for us to ask for what we want because he already knows. Prayer is not for changing God's mind, it's for us. In my own situation, praying fervently is another way of building this faith relationship between me and God. The loving Father wants his daughter to come to Him with anything that concerns her. My expectations should be focused on God. My heavenly Father created the universe in six days so I know that no problem or request is too big--or too small--for Him to handle.

Charles Stanley once said about prayer that, "God will stir our hearts to pray when it's His will (for us to pray)." If it's not God's will for me to pray about a particular request, He will let me know. There may come a time when it's time to stop praying and do something or to lay aside that request. 

Luke 18 is the parable of the persistent widow which is a great example of prayer. And this verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says...

Pray without ceasing.

This just scratches the surface on this topic of prayer. But I rather like the idea of setting my expectations high--on God--and laying my requests before Him. I may not always get the answer I want or expect, but I can confidently ask and trust God with the outcome.

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