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Learning How to Pray

Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted.

If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is “thank you,” that would suffice.

—Meister Eckhart

When an insurmountable problem or difficult circumstance comes into your life, what do you do?

You pray, but what do you pray for? If you’re like most, you pray for God to spare you from what is about to happen—from the consequences of your actions. That’s the agenda most follow. You want God to rescue you from whatever unpleasantness is about to transpire. Initially, you ask. Then, you beg. Finally, you abandon all of your pretentiousness and plead your case, insisting that God intervene on your behalf.

Then, when your prayer isn’t answered in the way you want, which it usually isn’t, you question God, entertaining all sorts of negative thoughts.

  • Does He really care?
  • Does He think you’re not worth the effort?
  • Is He really active in your life?
  • Why didn’t He come through for you?

But you probably never took a hard look at what you were praying about.

Here’s the problem. The thinking behind prayers that ask to be spared from natural consequences isn’t the type of prayer that God answers in the way you want. He simply doesn’t operate that way. God doesn’t deliver you from trouble; He delivers you through trouble. This isn’t parsing words.

There’s a big difference between the two. If God delivered you from your problems, you would never grow up, and that’s not what He wants for you.

He wants you to be mature, stable, and resilient. He wants you to have childlike faith, but He doesn’t want you to be a perpetual child. Almighty God is not a rescuer—not in a codependent way, and when that’s what you are praying for. When you pray like this, don’t be surprised when your requests are not answered in the way you want.

Because God wants you to be an adult—to attain your full stature as one of His children—He is more intent on having you learn your lessons from self-defeating behavior than anything else. That can only be accomplished by going through troubles, heartaches, disappointments, and suffering.

While you are going through your difficulties, however, He never leaves you, and He never forsakes you. That’s a promise He always keeps. That’s where you learn to trust Him, and it’s also where you learn to grow up.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Jack Watts

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