Monday, June 27, 2011

Unanswered Questions About Unanswered Prayers

Yesterday’s sermon provoked some great questions. Thanks of the emails! Many of the questions revolved around people wanting to make sure that the prayers they are praying are the right kind of bold prayers.

One man expressed concern that a bold prayer his family had prayed was in accordance with God’s will. A woman emailed me to ask whether or not one of her prayers could be prayed in a bold manner or if she was being selfish and ungrateful for the things God has already provided her.

Let me provide a few more thoughts that may be helpful as you pray.

1. Mundane issues should provoke extraordinary prayer.

The problem with our prayers isn’t that we’re concerned with the little things in life. The problem is that we fail to see the eternal importance of the little things. Praying for Aunt Mabel’s big toe to heal isn’t wrong. What's wrong is when the focus of the prayer becomes the toe instead of God.

2. God-glorifying motivation is at the heart of God-glorifying bold prayers.

The key—as is so often the case—is to determine what our motives are as we pray. Is our desire our own kingdom or God’s? Mundane prayers are focused on our own glory. Bold prayers begin by glorifying God and praying for the establishment of His eternal kingdom.

3. As we continue to pray, our prayers should become more refined and our wrong motivations filtered out.

After considering the second principle, some might object: “But the problem is that I can pray for a request and justify my motives even if those motives aren’t pure. I can pray for a job promotion and say that it is for God to be more glorified in the workplace, but I’m not sure that’s truly my motives."

Perhaps this is another reason God allows our requests to not be answered right away. The longer we pray, the more pure our prayers should become. God continues to show things in our heart that aren’t right and it allows our soul to be more focused on Him. As the Psalmist prays: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Ps. 139:23-24; cf. Ps 19:12).

I told the young woman who was concerned that her prayers might be selfish that what she wanted to pray for was Biblical and just to make sure that her motives were right. She replied that after considering her motives, she had confessed to God that her desire was not His glory but her own ease of life. Continuing in prayer in this area has been a refining process for her, she told me.

May you and I similarly be refined by a loving and generous Heavenly Father.

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