Richard Foster writes, “We can determine if we are praying correctly if the requests come to pass.” Wow – does that really mean that if I am in the right posture, in the right room, speaking the right words – with my shoes on the right feet, and my dirty dishes out of the sink, God will do whatever.
Part of me wishes that was true.
Part of me is glad it’s not.
Cuz that would make me the boss of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being the boss. And I am pretty good at it…having 3 younger sisters, I often heard “you’re not the boss of me!” (insert flailing arms followed by the determined “stomp, stomp, stomp…”).
But to be the boss-of-God is much too daunting for this well-practiced control freak. If I was the boss of God, I’d have to hang the stars in space…and make sure they show up at the same time each night. I’d have to get some hearing aids, and then hand out megaphones so I could hear precious voices crying out on the opposite side of the world. I’d have to walk through the halls of junior high again (and believe me, I didn’t enjoy it the first time) to assure growing teens that God doesn’t mind zits. And I’d have to figure out how to bring perfect everlasting justice to this fractured world in which we live.
Too much. Too soon…or ever. Nope - I don’t want to be the boss of God.
But I do want my prayers to go somewhere – to make a difference!
Let’s look at God’s Word to figure this out. Christ Jesus, speaking to his followers, said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). Take note:
- Who said this? Christ – his promises are sure!
- To whom was it said? Christ’s followers – those who are paying attention to the presence and direction of their Savior!
- What’s the requirement? Christ’s words take up residence in your soul!
- What’s the process? Ask. Go ahead. Ask!
- What’s the promise? It will be done for you (not by you… and not in your timing…and maybe not how you picture it).
What’s going down here?
Christ is saying that when your thoughts, actions, and motives are shaped by His Word, then your desires, expressed in prayer, will be aligned with His! So, yes, Richard Foster – if we are praying rightly, our prayers will be answered. Because to “pray rightly” means that we are praying the very Words and wishes of our Lord. To pray rightly means that we are being shaped and molded by the Words of God. To pray rightly means not that we are changing God’s mind, but that we are the ones being changed.
For further thought:
1. Here’s another Word from the Lord. It was written by David – about 1000 years before Christ spoke to his disciples. How does it connect/resonate with the verse above?
Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
2. Which of these wishes do you identify with?
- a. that you could change God’s mind?
- b. that God would change your mind?
3. From where do you get your words for prayer?
4. What does it look like to let the Words of Christ remain in you?
About the Author
Beth is our Pastor of Congregational Life & Care. You are likely to find her riding her bicycle, sipping coffee, savoring dark chocolate, or improvising on the piano.