How We Answer Our Own Prayers
"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’" Luke 11:1 (ESV)
A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip something cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.
"So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you think you will remember the most?"
I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so very different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.
"Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."
Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.
"You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down to the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank up the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God for things they can’t always provide for themselves."
I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about two things.
First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To share the privilege I have been given with others.
Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will. To pray for requests in my life beyond the,"Lord, keep us safe and warm and well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.
Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking my prayer life could use a makeover. Luke 11:1 reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.
Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.
My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive to those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in faith — watch Him work.
How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."
Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t be answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (NKJV)
Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)
For more on prayer, including a place to post your "I Can’t Answer it Myself" prayer request, visit Karen Ehman’s blog. She is also giving away a prayer time basket to one reader who comments.
To be inspired to live a life that trusts in God, check out Karen’s book and DVD Bible study, LET. IT. GO.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What are some daily prayers you pray that are easy to "answer" yourself? List them on a piece of paper or a notes app on your phone.
Now, under where you made that list, write down at least one bold prayer that you cannot answer yourself. Then, begin to pray daily about this request, asking God to align your will with His.
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