I am a firm believer in prayer. I know that prayer works. I've seen it work. But when it comes to praying for things in my own life, I find myself in a pit of confusion. On the one hand, I want to ask in faith and believe with all my heart that God will answer my prayer in the affirmative, but I also want God's will for my life, and what if the thing I'm asking for is not part of His will? Then what? Then there's the real tricky one for me. If I pray, believing that something is God's will and believing with all my heart that He will answer in the affirmative, and then He says "no," I am certain I will be left feeling disappointed and probably even angry with God. In other words, I'm afraid to ask in faith because I don't want to get my hopes up only to have them dashed when things don't work out the way I was praying.
I have always been afraid to admit this to anyone else because it sounds so childish and immature, but fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I found out this weekend that I'm not the only one who feels this way. A particular family member was telling me about a job for which he had applied. He was expressing to me how much he wanted the job and explaining that he felt so at peace with it. The interviews had gone well. He felt confident, more so than he had with any other job. And beyond that, he declared that he felt closer to the Lord than ever before and that, in the past few weeks, he had seen God move in several miraculous--yet unrelated--ways.
He even confided in me that others had told him that if he felt that confident that the new job was God's will that he should continue in prayer and truly claim the victory. "But I'm afraid to," he said, "because what will I do then if I don't get it?" I couldn't believe it. I wasn't alone in this struggle. In a single sentence, he described the web I've tried to untangle for years. We talked and laughed about our spiritual similarities for quite a while, then suddenly a thought hit me like a baseball to the head. In fact, the thought was out of my mouth before I even realized what had just happened, so I know God was speaking. "Well, it's like this. You can pray about it and claim it, and if you don't get the job, you'll know that it wasn't God's will for you at this time. On the other hand, you can pray and not claim it, but then if you don't get the job, you'll always wonder if it was because it wasn't God's will or if it was because you didn't ask in faith with nothing wavering."
The expression on his face, I'm certain, mirrored my own. His eyes grew wide, and a smile broke on his face. I could almost see the lightbulb come on, but perhaps that's because it had come on for me. "Well, there you go," he said, but all I could do was shake my head. It was so simple. The answer was so clear. How in the world could it have taken me so long to figure it out? I don't know, but I'm so glad God revealed this truth to me because now I have such peace in my prayer. I'm not afraid to claim it anymore because I now understand that by asking in faith with nothing wavering, I am putting the entire situation in God's hands. That way, if the answer isn't what I want, I can rest in the knowledge that it wasn't God's will for me at this time rather than forever wondering if my own lack of faith cost me the thing for which I was praying.
By committing to my belief in prayer and my faith that God will give me what I ask for if it's in His will, I am cutting myself out of the equation. Once I've prayed, the results are up to Him, and I know He makes no mistakes!
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. - James 1:5-7