Praying with Expectations

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 12, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

As I continue this series on prayer, one thing that tends to make people uncomfortable is prayer with expectations. Do we actually expect God to come through? Do we have the audacity to make specific requests of God with the expectation that he will come through? Or do we settle with casual, generic prayers that cover the bases, but do not actually require any real faith? When I started this series, I did not want to merely talk about prayer on a casual level. I wanted to dig deep, VERY deep… and I wanted to start living a true, praying life.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possible somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed."

How many of us pray “shotgun” prayers? We try to hit all the bases, but aren’t aiming at anything, or really expecting to hit anything. Why? I would suggest part of it is false humility. We don’t want to appear cocky before God so we try to pray “humble” prayers. How many of us have come across the mindset of “Who are you to ask God for that?” The problem is God does not care for that. He would prefer the bold, honest, raw prayers over the cheap, generic, casual prayers, especially in the name of humility. There are two characters in the Bible that asked for very specific results that most of us today would consider it to be “presumptuous.”

The first is Gideon. Gideon had been charged to deliver Israel from the Midianites and in obedience, he went through his town and destroyed the idols to Baal and Asherah. But before he aroused the army, he wanted validation of his charge. He asked for a fleece to be wet with dew but all the ground to be dry. Then he asked for the fleece to be dry and all the ground to be wet. This could not happen in the natural realm; it required a miracle.

Was Gideon being prideful in asking for this? Was he being presumptuous? No. He was seeking a confirmation. He wanted to be absolutely sure that this charge was from God. One thing I have learned is this: God never turns down an honest seeker. Let me say that again. God never turns down an honest seeker. If you are striving to find the truth and are willing to lay it all down until you find it, you will find it. God will not hide himself from those who seek him. But he may ask you to leave it all behind and do nothing but pursue him with everything you have. He does not like causal, half-hearted seeking. He does not care for, “I want to know God, but if I don’t hear from him, no big deal.” No, he wants those who dig their feet into the ground, and they wrestle with him and pursue and hunt him down until they find him. Do we have expectations of finding God? Do we believe he will come through? Gideon did.

The other person who asked for a very specific request was Abraham’s servant when he went to get a wife for Isaac. The servant asked God that the bride would not only get him water, but also water all his camels (ten camels and each camel could easily drink 60 gallons of water). He had a very specific request that would tell him what he needed to know in order to obey. There are many other examples of people in the Bible giving very specific requests and had expectations that God would come through on it.

God does not want us to pray loose, generic, shotgun prayers. There is no faith to these. The prophecies in the Bible are very specific and detailed to the point where you could not have just about anything fulfill them, especially when put together. Our prayers should be like the Bible’s prophecies: detailed and specific. Now, there are times where we have to pray generically simply because we do not know the situation or when we do not know how to pray. In two weeks, I’m going to address this particular aspect in greater detail. Another issue is that we tend to pray with a Plan B in mind. I’ll address that next week.

Let us get specific in our prayer requests. Do we even know what we want to pray for? Allow me to give you a hint to practice on this. What is your deepest desire in life? What is it that you truly want more than anything else? For some people, it is the approval of their father. For others, it is restoration of their family. For others, it may be freedom from pornography. For others, it may be to become a parent of a God-fearing child. What is that deep, deep desire that only you know about, that you have not told anyone? Some of you may be thinking right now: “NO WAY, am I asking God for that.” Ask God for that. Ask God to give you an answer about that situation. God often answers not in the way we expect but in a much bigger and better way than we expect. And do not stop asking until the answer comes.

Look at the Gospels. Jesus asked two blind men, “What do you want me to do?” He is asking us that now. “What do you want me to do?” Those whom Jesus asked this question to were desperate. They wanted healing. They wanted a solution. They were not greedy. They were not presumptuous. They wanted answers. They were honest seekers. And because they put their faith in Jesus, he gave them what they asked for. Could we ask amiss on this? Absolutely. The Israelites did in Numbers 11. They wanted meat instead of manna, so God gave them meat, and cursed them for it. But they did not seek the Lord for their provision. They complained about what he did provide. If we seek to pursue the Lord and leave it all behind to get to him, we can ask God for whatever we want and he will give it to us. If we do this, we won’t be asking for selfish reasons because we are going to be asking for what God wants to give us anyway. If you do not know what to pray for, ask God to tell you what to pray for. If you want confirmation, ask for confirmation. If you want peace in your situation, ask Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to fill you with his peace. Be bold, be courageous in your asking and in all cases, set your heart to seek the Lord.

Next week, I am going to address a very specific prayer we all tend to pray: “Lord, if it be your will…”

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