There are so many things for which I have prayed that have never come to pass. I have prayed for the lost to be found. I have prayed for a child. I have prayed for relationships to be restored. I have prayed for physical healing. I have seen God answer my prayers in mighty and big ways before, but I have also prayed for many good things and have seemingly received no answer from God. Sometimes it has later made sense to me why God did not bring about what I pleaded with Him to do. Other times, I simply could make no sense of it.
And yet, the more I get to know God in the Bible, the more I trust Him. The more I see Him at work in my life, the more I see that His goodness is so far beyond my understanding of what is good. The more I cry out to Him and experience His presence in millions of ways, the more I see that His love is like nothing else I have given or experienced.
Prayer draws me deeper into His presence—into the presence of my Loving Father. Prayer reminds me of just how much I need Him. Prayer fills me with genuine thanksgiving and praise, as I reflect on all the prayers that have been answered and as I reflect on God’s overall faithfulness to me. Prayer allows me to be honest before the God who has already accepted me in Christ and who continually forgives me and daily conforms me to the image of Jesus. Prayer whets my appetite for the Word. Prayer fills me with worship towards God and love for others. Prayer changes my heart.
He has not promised to fulfill every desire of my heart—and this is a good thing since many of the desires of my heart are not good or are simply not His best. He has not promised me a life of no pain—to the contrary He has promised suffering and asks me to deny myself and take up my cross (Phil 1; Matthew 16).
He has promised He will not leave me or forsake me (John 14; Deut 3, 1 Chronicles 28; Hebrews 13). He has promised that He is working all things for my good and for the good of His people (Romans 8). He has promised to give rest to all who come to Him (Matt 11). He has promised eternal life for all who believe in Him (John 3). He has promised that He will wipe away every tear one day (Rev 21). He has promised that His grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12).
I will not stop praying for people and situations in my life. I will not stop praying for things I have long prayed for and have yet to see come to pass. I know that it honors God for me to persist in prayer for these things. I know that the heart of God is the heart of the Ultimate Loving Father who delights to listen to the requests of His children and who delights to bless them. Yet I want to learn to pray more and more with faith and hope in God—not in the things I want or in the gifts that He gives—but faith and hope in God Himself, who is my treasure above every other thing. And I want to trust in His goodness, no matter what.
I see Jesus’ heart of trusting His Father when He prays on the Mount of Olives:
Luke 22:41-44 “And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’ 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
The Father does not take away the cup of suffering from Jesus. And since Jesus is God, He even knows this when He is praying. Jesus’ heart is 100% committed to the will of His Good Father. And Scripture tells us Jesus willingly died for our sins. And yet Jesus brings His sorrows to His Father. And while Jesus' circumstances do not change, through prayer He receives strength to walk through them.
I have been blessed to have a godly earthy father. He is one of the people I most respect in this world. My dad has always let me know that I am loved. He has always been there for me. My dad has sacrificed for me. I know that my dad delights in me, and he enjoys it when I talk to him and ask him for help—this has always been true. I know that, despite the fact that he is human and accordingly imperfect, his heart’s desire is to point me to God and to do me good. I know that my heartaches have caused my dad sorrow and my joys have caused him joy. Over the course of my life, I have asked me dad for lots of things. To some of these things, he has said “yes”, and to some of these things he has said “no”, but I know his heart’s desire has always been for my good.
Unlike my earthly father, my Heavenly Father is perfectly good, perfectly wise, perfectly loving, and perfectly in control. As much as my earthly father wants my good, my Heavenly Father perfectly wants my good, has the perfect power to bring about my best good, and has promised that He is doing so. As much as my earthly father loves me, my Heavenly Father loves me perfectly. As much as my earthly father has sacrificed so much in his life for me, my Heavenly Father has made the ultimate sacrifice for me by sending His Beloved Perfect Son to the cross so that I could be free. As much as my earthly father delights in me and enjoys it when I talk with him and ask him for help, so much more does my Heavenly Father! And so much more is my Heavenly Father equipped to guide and direct me and provide for me! As much as my earthly father rejoices and grieves with me, how much more does my Heavenly Father rejoice and grieve with me! And as much as my earthly father has tried to answer my requests of him with “yes” and “no” according to what he discerned would be best for me, how much more does my Heavenly Father know what would be best for me!
More and more, I want to study, meditate on, know and trust God’s character as displayed in the Scriptures. He is good! More and more, I want to go to Him with EVERYTHING—with all the circumstances of my life and with all the cares and joys of my heart. More and more, I want to ask Him to move in my life and in the lives of those around me. More and more, I want to trust Him whether I understand what He is doing or not. More and more, I want Him to conform my heart to His!