As Christians, we have the privilege of calling the Creator God our Heavenly Father too. Because we are praying to a deity with whom we have a real, personal relationship with, prayer is more than just a ‘shopping list’ we bring to God and cross out as He answers it or as we change our mind. God cannot be just our Genie who whimsically does our bidding. If we treat Him as such, I would ask the serious question of who really is acting as God here, us or Him?
Prayer is, amongst other things, the recognition of our desperate need for God and faith in His good character and sovereignty. This means that regardless which way God answers our heart cries, we have faith in His goodness and His infinite wisdom; we place our most vulnerable needs and deepest burdens on Him, trusting Him when He says that His yoke is easy and His burden light (Matthew 11:28-30).
The Psalms demonstrate that King David maintained confidence in his prayers despite many deep disappointments and denied requests in life, including the death of his infant son (2 Samuel 12, Psalm 51). How did he maintain such confidence? He did so by clinging on to his many experiences of God saving him and revealing His sovereign goodness to King David despite his constant failings and sin.
We who live after Christ have a greater assurance of God’s promise to listen to our prayers. We know that God will answer us when we call because one dark day, He did not answer Jesus when Jesus Himself called. Jesus, who lived the perfect life and pleased God in every way prayed in Gethsemane that the ‘cup of suffering’ on the cross be taken from him, yet his request was turned down. He prayed on the cross for God and yet was forsaken (Matthew 27:46). The only man who walked on Earth who also deserved to have all his prayers answered was spurned. Why? The answer is called the Gospel (the good news).
God treated Jesus Christ as we deserved. As sinners, we deserve for our prayers to go unanswered. I understand that this is a hard truth to swallow, and I empathise with the struggles of praying without knowing why God would deny us our wishes. But, the Bible very clearly portrays the state of the human heart apart from God’s intervention. How can an unholy people ever plead with a holy God? Yet, here is where the good news come in: On the cross, Jesus, son of God, took our punishment and penalty. He suffered for our sake, bore the rejection of His Holy Father and received death for a life that never deserved it. Whoever who believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). Beloved, this means that we receive the undeserved access to God precisely because Jesus, who rightfully deserved access, was denied it. How much should our hearts overflow with joyfulness and thankfulness over this undeserved grace we find in Christ? How much more should our minds be blown over God’s demonstration of love towards us? (Romans 5:8)
Therefore, Christians, let us heed to the biblical command to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) knowing that Jesus Christ is our eternal mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). Continue bringing your whole selves to God in prayer, the selves that are riddled with brokenness and in desperate need of forgiveness. Do all this knowing that it is precisely because of Jesus that we are granted full permission to bring our requests to our Father, and He will receive and answer our prayers according to His infinite wisdom and goodness.
In prayer, we receive what our hearts were created for: an eternal, perfect fellowship with our Creator God, whom we were made to worship and love. ❤