“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” Job 13:15 NIV.
My counselor friend, Jim, said something about “praying on the wrong foot, begging instead of believing” in a session with me recently. That phrase stuck with me.
Prayer is one of the least understood practices in our faith. I imagine it might be that way in other religions, too, even the ones with heavily prescribed prayers, but I’m not certain about that. Maybe everyone gets it but me. Such a mysterious thing, prayer. Saying words that we’re trying to feel so we can move God’s hand can seem like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. I suck at that too.
Moving away from begging prayers to believing prayers is a nice thought. But how does that work? How does a pray-er guard against slipping into that same old laundry list of needs and wants? How do you not pray for the rent money when the rents coming due? How do you stand strong in the confidence that God hears and answers believing prayers? Is it about how you sit, stand, kneel, or whether you close your eyes or not? What exactly is He wanting from us?
Jim’s words pushed me back to the idea of alignment. God’s will is always to save, but not everyone comes to Him wanting a relationship. God’s will, at least from the example of Jesus, is to heal all who ask. But not all the sick people around us get healed, even when we and they ask with as much faith as we can muster. All the formulas sometimes fail. So it’s more about knowing that God is good, aligning our hearts and hopes with what we see in the Word.
From there, we pray with as much certainty and belief as we have in the moment, always leaving room for Him to do His thing and put it all over the top. If Granny doesn’t get up out of her wheelchair or the bank starts calling repeatedly, we trust Him still. Prayer might not be about getting what we pray for. It may be more about staying in alignment with Him, knowing His love and presence never fails us no matter what happens.