What are you praying about these days? What burden weighs heaviest on your heart? Is it the spiritual condition of a son or a daughter or a friend? The health of your marriage? The health of your body? The health of your church? What request do you long for God to answer?
Now, as you pray, what do you expect? Certainly, we can expect that God hears our prayer. We can expect that God cares for us and knows our need, even before we pray. And we can expect that God will answer because He loves to do so.
It is good and right to expect such things, but I wonder if there's more we expect. I wonder if we have particular expectations for God's answers. So, consider these questions. How do you expect Him to answer your prayer? What's the best way for Him to answer?
Those may seem like strange questions to ask about our prayers, but I think we all have a pretty good idea of the best way the Lord could answer. After all, we see the situation. And we see what seems to be the best outcome.
The prodigal child returns before hitting rock bottom. My marriage revolutionized overnight. My body miraculously healed. My church bursting with revival.
Of course, we know we must submit these things to the Lord. We remember being taught about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We know to add "Not my will but yours be done" to our prayers. And we say those words...every time.
But we have a silent asterisk next to that phrase. An asterisk meant to remind the Lord that we already have a pretty good idea of how He should respond. We know what to expect. After all, if it's that clear to me, surely it's that clear to Him as well.
I have to be honest. Writing that last paragraph makes me shudder. It's so presumptuous, isn't it? To believe a finite creature like me has any ability to govern the slightest detail in God's universe? To assume that what I know of the situation is all there is to know? All I see is all there is to be seen?
Children have a pretty good idea of what is best for them. Sometimes, children are convinced that asking permission is simply a formality. A courtesy given to parents. Yet, all the while, they are certain they know how Mom and Dad ought to respond. Not surprisingly, it's always a yes. But parents know better.
In an infinitely greater way, our Heavenly Father knows better. Our God is sovereign, and He is infinitely wise. We can trust Him, even when He works in unexpected ways.
To think more on God's unexpected way of working, listen to this sermon on Habakkuk 1:1-11 from Gray Road Baptist Church: SoundCloud, iTunes