The other night I asked my wild, ginger-headed 7 year old son if he would like to pray for a container of food to get to the kids without mommies and daddies, about 272,000 meals.
He looked up and said, “No daddy, I want to pray for 10 containers!”
I was about to correct him with my ‘adult rationality,’ about to tell him how hard it would be. But something made me stop. His faith challenged me. “why don’t I ask God for greater things?”
I sometimes struggle truly believing God will answer my prayers, to the point where I’ll be surprised when he does. But Jesus said, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Believing is vital to prayer. It has to be more than simply breathing words up to the sky.
I’ve found a few practices that have genuinely helped on the journey to believing prayer.
Pray for others
Sometimes a simple question can shake you to the core, for me it was this simple question, “How much time do you spend praying for yourself, verses praying for others?”
I have the balance off. Then I thought, “why do I pray so much for my own life?”
Answer: I don’t trust God to take care of me.
Praying for others is a strong statement that God will take care of you.
When you know you are taken care of, you are free to carry other’s burdens. It’s a beautiful transition from worrying about your life, to carrying other’s burdens. Praying for others, carrying their burdens often helps me realize how much God has blessed me. I find it easier to believe my prayers.
Scripture says “If we ask according to his will, we will have whatever we ask” But its hard to know if we truly are praying God’s will sometimes.
The easiest way I know to pray God’s will to to pray Scripture. Scripture is full of prayers, whether its the Psalms, or the prayers of the Apostles in Ephesians 1:16-19 and Ephesians 3:16-19, or the Lord’s prayer. We can be confident we are praying exactly what God wants.
It will happen.
Pray a lot
I love reading books from the old saints about prayer. Our insta-culture has a hard time with slowing down for anything, much less prayer. Their voice is refreshing, and challenging.
“Prayer is not difficult to understand. It is difficult to do. We are a generation that avoids pain at all costs. This is why there are so few intercessors. Deep, prolonged intercession is painful. It involves staying before God when everyone else has gone away or sleeps (Luke 22:45) When we do not feel like praying is precisely the time we ought to pray.” – Henry Blackaby
There is no other way around it. When I spend more time with God, he becomes greater, my problems and challenges become smaller, and my soul is stirred with other worldly faith.
As I write this, container number 10 is about to be loaded up. We’re going to have a party and celebrate the prayer answering God.