“Recognize that prayer is the most potent weapon in your spiritual arsenal, and use it with great promise and much hope – for when you begin a life of prayer, you begin a great adventure.” Chuck Smith
When Jack was a kid, somewhere around 9ish, he started playing tackle football and it was terrible. For two years, every week, I would go to Women’s Bible Study and share the same prayer requests, “Pray for Demi’s health, and that Jack would get good at football.” While the latter got some inquisitive looks, the need was real – he was getting creamed out there.
He was already small (our genetics did him no favors) and slow (later we found out he was flat footed), but tackling was what kept me up at night. Beside the immediate pain, the damage done could cause future issues, and as a mom, this was a constant source of anxiety for me. My pride was taking a beat down as well, but the other reasons sound better. And so I continued to pray (and asked my Bible Study women to pray) for my son to receive a supernatural talent boost.
After 5 LONG YEARS of, “We’ll get em next year, kid” he finally hung up the cleats and called it. The dream was dead.
Until one day, years later, Jack jumped in the front seat of the car and excitedly exclaimed he was playing football for school this year. Since he hadn’t played the three previous years of high school, had missed a month of practices, had no cleats, and no up-to-date physical, I wasn’t expecting this declaration to materialize into much, but low and behold, by the end of the week, he was suited up.
By game three we were told the quarterback would be out for personal reasons this week and Jack would be his replacement! Was coach serious? Wincing in anticipation, we apprehensively watched from the sidelines – this could be really bad. But to my wonder, that game put into motion what would turn into a full time quarterback position and the team’s new star player.
His team never lost a game, and we were hoarse from cheering. He was aggressive (you could cut the testosterone with a knife). He had a good mind for reading defensive plays and could run the ball easily. His timing was great and his throw accurate. The season ended up being the highlight of his entire high school experience by far.
And then a funny thought made me chuckle. As a joke, I should let my Bible study girls from years ago know our prayers were answered! The email would go like this:
“Ladies, our prayers from years ago have finally been answered. Jack is good, nay, phenomenal at football. In fact, he just won the Offensive Player of the Year Award! Wait…IS SOMEONE STILL PRAYING?!”
Haha, of course someone wasn’t still praying. Most likely, God answered the prayer I had long forgotten on His own time table and in His own way. But sadly, that mock email reveals how lightly I take prayer. I had answered prayer right in front of my face, and yet did not acknowledge it as such, but only as a joke.
We know prayer is a powerful thing, and I say I believe it, but my anorexic prayer life and faithless petitions, say I don’t. The way I dismiss met prayer as coincidence or nature’s natural progression (Jack wasn’t little anymore, and we had bought him insoles) confirms this to be true. I rotely chant my concerns to God in an effort to cover my bases (I’d try anything that would potentially help), and I’m hopeful, but it’s more of a wish than a conviction. He says to pray and so I pray. Friends, I am a skeptical prayer and this has got to change. The Bible calls this doubt, and I should expect nothing for it (James 1:6-8).
So my lesson as of late is this:
“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast in to the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:22-24
“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” Matthew 6:7-8 The Message
An answered prayer is branded by the word “FAITH” – seared front and center. And this is the faith: God is capable and a loving Father.
First, I must believe God is Who He says He is: God. This means we should pray knowing He is able. This is the starting point, and as a Bible-believing Christian, we are settled in this regard. It’s the second verse that can tend to allude me personally: He is my Father. It’s not just a title, it is a status. In the very next verse, Jesus’s example of prayer immediately positions us to pray from that standpoint.
“Our Father…” Matthew 6:9
Do fathers give bad things when their children ask for good? Fathers lavish upon their children in harmony and proportion to their goodness and affection toward them. He is the same way, and wants us to know that. If it is a good thing (this is the caveat since not everything we ask for is good or for the greater good), and asked for in faith (believing He is God and our Father), then He gives to me freely and generously, as any benevolent father would (Matthew 7:7-11).
Once we are firmly established as His child, assured prayers are a rational response. Knowing God is endeared to me should bolster my boldness as I bring my needs to Him and as I’m consciously aware of how deeply He longs to give me my heart’s desire, since even as a wretched selfish sinner I know how much I love to give to my children their heart’s desire.
So how much do you suppose we are leaving on the table because we do not ask, or we do not ask in faith? If you were paying attention, then you know only one of my two prayer request in Women’s Bible Study have now been answered. We enjoyed Jack’s rise to football stardom, but now comfortably make our bed in the Land of Waiting, as we expectantly sit on hold for Demi’s health in hope and in faith, as my tender doting Father asks me to.
My answered prayer!