What Should We Expect?
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
Why do we pray? Why does anybody pray? Some pray for things, some for answers to life questions. Some pray for religious habit. Some pray as a last resort. “If all else fails, pray!” Some pray, as the Bible reveals to us, for strife and debate [Isaiah 58:4]. Still others pray with doubt and little expectation that their prayers will make any difference, but they pray just in case.
We pray for healing, for salvation, for deliverance, for mercy, for grace, for whatever the human need may be. And we know that it is good and right in every situation to pray.
Pray without ceasing.
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…” Ephesians 6:18
Choose prayer over worry, then rest confidently in the peace of God.
“Be anxious (be careful) for nothing, but in all things through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Philippians 4:6
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8
If prayer is asking God for His will to be done in any situation, then what should our expectation be when we pray?
Think about it. If you ask a stranger for something, you can’t be sure, if they will respond positively or negatively, or at all. But God is not a stranger to us who believe. If you ask a friend on earth for something you hope they can answer you favorably, but they may not be able to. Yet, because they are a friend you are content in knowing if they could they would generously respond to your request. But God is both our God and our friend through Jesus Christ our Lord, and He is not a friend of limited resources. His source of supply is infinite, immeasurable and available to all His people.
If we ask anything of our mom or dad or someone we know loves us, we ask with confidence, based on the measure of our experience with them. Knowing their love for us, gives us the confidence to ask and to expect that they will answer our request favorably.
Moreover, we are confident, because we know they love us, that they would never knowingly give us anything that would contribute to our harm or destruction. How much more, then, will God, our Heavenly Father be positively disposed to answer our petitions favorably? God wants to bless and prosper us. He wants us to share in the riches of His glory.
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one…” John 17:22
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
But is that what we expect when we pray? How confident are we in God’s love for us, that He will hear and answer us favorably when we pray? 50/50? 70/30? Less? More? What is our trust quotient in God? What is our assurance, if any, that when we pray, what we have prayed for will come to pass?
When we pray and ask God, our Father in Heaven for anything He will hear us and if what we pray for is according to His will, He will give it to us. This is the confidence we have in Him. If we are not sure of His will on any matter, then we pray in hope with confidence that His will, will be done. And that is not bad, nor accounted as faithlessness. What is faithful is that we ask and keep on asking, that we seek and keep on seeking, that we knock and keep on knocking. We will receive, we will find, and the door will be opened to us.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:9-10
One thing that hinders our prayers is our lack of confident-faith in Him. Someone might say, “I pray all the time and nothing ever changes.” That statement demonstrates where that person’s faith rests. And it proves that we can have whatever we say. What he said was “nothing changes when he prays.” Therefore, he is getting what he is saying. If on the other hand by faith, he said, “When I pray I know God hears me and because I know He hears me, I know I have the petitions I ask of Him,” he would have what he says. This happens all the time. What I say consistent with the will of God, I receive, every time.
What should our expectation be when we pray? It should be confident assurance that we will have what we say when we pray and believe.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” 1 John 5:14
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:24
Pray, believe, expect, receive. Ultimately, the question of faith in prayer is, Who and/or What do we really trust the most? God and His Word, or the things we see and the traditions of men? What we see with our eyes is compelling and powerful in our thinking. But what we hear continually, forms and establishes our faith.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [Romans 10:17].
The more we hear of God’s Word, the more our faith in that Word is established in our hearts. The yoke of Jesus is easy because the work of bringing that Word to us is already done in Him. All we need do is immerse ourselves in it, surround ourselves with it and consume it to the full, even to it overflowing from our hearts.
Then, out of our mouths we will speak what is in our hearts in abundance. What we say then, in faith, will accomplish the same things that Jesus accomplished and even greater works, because the Holy Spirit is with us and in us to give power to our words.