Have you ever prayed and thought, “God isn’t going to answer this prayer?” I sure have. Today my friend Jenni shares the key to answered prayer, based on Jesus’ example. The question for us is, “Will you model your prayers (and heart) after His?”
Driving home one day, our family decided to pray for safe travels. My son said, “Yeah, because we don’t want to get in an accident.”
I corrected him, “Just because we pray doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get in an accident.”
“It doesn’t?” he asked, confused.
“Not even a small percentage less of a chance that we will get in an accident?”
I was trying to teach my son that God is not our magic genie, granting us our every wish. I knew from experience that seeing God as our own personal wish granter could be dangerous to our faith life, especially during the hard times in life, because God doesn’t always say yes.
It wasn’t until later that I realized, with much regret, that I had led my son astray in his perception of prayer. While I don’t want him to treat God like a magic genie, I do want him to know that God answers prayers, and that prayer changes things. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and even wrote about it in my book, Forty Days.
It’s a hard concept to understand though, and an even harder one to explain in simple terms to a child. I gave it another shot though:
“Son, imagine that when we pray, we are like a little kid who asks their parent for a cookie. The parent could easily give the child a cookie if she wanted, but she must first decide if that’s what is best for the child.
The parent knows more than the child about many things – like nutrition and when the next meal will be – just like God knows more than we do. Like the parent, God must decide what is truly best for us. It is good to ask Him for what we want or need though, because sometimes He will give us the cookie!”
In telling my son this story, it helped me understand a little bit better too. I had to laugh at myself, thinking of the times God has told me “no,” and I threw a fit just like a child who didn’t get the cookie. Sometimes we just don’t understand our Heavenly Father’s decisions, and it can be hard to accept.
But when that happens, we can remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was facing horrible torture and certain death, and He knew it. Jesus prayed for it all to be taken away, saying:
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Ultimately, in His prayer, Jesus said, “Not my will but yours be done.” That is the key – praying that God’s will always be done in our life rather than our own. It’s the key…and it’s the hard part.
It’s amazing to me that even on the worst day of His life, Jesus had faith that God would take the evil acts of the people who hurt Him and work it out for ultimate good.
That is the message I was trying to teach my son that day in the car. It’s a lesson I need to learn myself. I’m so grateful, Jesus gave us a great example to help us along the way.
And don’t forget to join our 40-Day Praying the Promises for Your Children going on now!
Jenni DeWitt is a fun-loving contemplative who is discovering the value of rest and silent prayer in the midst of this rushed society. She is the author of two books — Forty Days and Why Won’t God Talk to Me? Surprising Ways He Already Is. Jenni lives in Nebraska with her husband and two young sons. She loves to help people in their daily prayer time at Genuflected.com.