Ahhhh! The wonderful invention of the vending machine! It conveniently stands as a beacon of contentment in most break rooms, outside stores, in school cafeterias and at gas stations. We simply slip in a few coins, make a selection, and out comes our treat. We can choose from a variety of tasty items, all perfectly designed to curb our hunger and satisfy our thirst. As long as we have change in our pockets, (and the machine still works), we know that our requests can be immediately granted and our cravings curbed.
Often we think of God as our own personal vending machine. We plunk in a prayer and expect immediate satisfaction to our requests. When the answer to our prayer is a quick “yes”, we are pleased, but when the answers we receive are seemingly slow to come or aren’t what we expect, we become disappointed. We ask for this and for that, forgetting, or not really understanding, that getting what we want isn't the true purpose of prayer. Yes, God wants to give us the desires of our hearts, but there is more behind His willingness to hear our longings.
When we pray we shouldn’t demand our own way, but rather, ask and discover what He wants for us. “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). God loves us and knows what is best for us in every situation. When we align our prayers to His will, we can pray with confidence knowing His answer is the right one. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: 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 what we asked of Him” (I John 5:14-15).
We may wonder, then, why we should pray when God already knows our every need. The answer? Prayer is the key to the heart of God. We were created to have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. Through prayer that relationship is formed and when we linger in His presence, it is cultivated and nurtured. In his book, Come Thirsty, Max Lucado writes that we should “Think of prayers less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God.” And we should “Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness. Acknowledge His presence everywhere (we) go.” When we communicate through prayer, we are affirming the existence of God in our life and actively acknowledging Him as the source of all power. As a result, our faith increases and our relationship with Him deepens.
Jesus shows us a perfect example of prayerfulness throughout the pages of God’s Word. He was an intercessor while He was here on earth, praying for those who were sick and suffering and He prayed for His disciples and friends. He even prayed for the believers who were not yet born…including you and me. Even now, Jesus continues His ministry of intercession as He sits on His throne at the right hand of God. “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). As we come alongside Him in prayer, God allows us the incredible privilege to be participants in His answer. Through Him, our prayers have power. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results”(James 5:16). When we allow God to use us as instruments for His glory, we will see His mighty hand do great work in our lives and in the lives for whom we pray.
Does God want us to pray for everything in our life - For strength, courage, health, jobs, our relationships and paying the bills? Yes, of course! We are His children. He loves us and wants us to bare our hearts to Him. When we go to Him in faith, with thankful hearts, we can be confident that He hears and answers all our prayers. He knows what is best for us. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
During this new year, I am excited to be "Going Deeper" in my relationship with Him. As I pray…as I keep on praying…I am confident that the God of All Creation will hear me and bless my efforts to draw near to Him. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”(Matthew 7:7).
Be sure to visit Spiritual Sundays for more devotionals whose writers pray will bless you today!