Reliance on God is an important part of the Christian experience and, for many, one of the hardest things to do as a believer. We, initially, find it easier to rely on ourselves even though we know ourselves to be flawed and capable of failure. We also find it easier to rely on others, such as family and friends, even though they too may fail from time to time. It’s a matter of accessibility. It is easier and more intuitive for us to reach out to those that we can see and touch. However, as we mature in our relationships with God, we gain greater understanding of the importance of prayer and communing with God. We use prayer to repent. We use it to thank God for his blessings. And we use it to lean on God in our time of need. Prayer is important. As Paul instructed in his letter to the church in Ephesus:
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. - Ephesians 6:18At some point, we all learn to, at least, bring our requests to God. When we need something or want it very badly, we ask God to help us get it. When we are unsure about the correct course of action we need to take, we ask God for his guidance. When there is some lack of understanding or insight about life that we just can’t seem to get past, we ask God for the answer. We are correct to go to God in those ways, but making a request is only one side of an interaction. To truly complete the interaction, we have to give God a chance to respond, and, if we are truly relying on Him, we have to proceed based on that response.
How often do we actually do that? When we make a request of God, do we wait for a response from Him or do we just proceed the same way we would if we had never asked in the first place. Many of us are quick to take verses like Matthew 11:24 to heart.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Scripture doesn’t lie. God gives us what we request, but when we move on it without waiting for God’s response, we may miss Him warning us that what we requested was not what we need. What about that person that wanted a new job badly, thinking only of the extra money it would bring, and then being miserable once they got that new position? Or what about that person dead set on entering a relationship with a crush only to see that relationship turn toxic soon after it is initiated. We’ve all heard about or even experienced situations like this, and in those cases, we might be tempted to wonder why God would put us in such positions. You hear some describe those trials as tests from God, when the reality is that we often go through those trials because we already failed the test. God warned us not to take those courses of action, but we were too caught up in our own desires to recognize it.
What about when we come to a barrier in our lives? We keep bumping up against that barrier hoping the outcome will be different, but nothing seems to change. We have no problem asking God for a sign for what we should do or asking him if a particular path is for us, but do we truly ever want his answer? The fact is that if you ask God a question, there is a very real possibility that the answer could be “No.” In cases where we have our hearts set on something, that’s often an answer that we don’t want to hear. So, we keep asking God the same question and keep proceeding without waiting for an answer wondering why things aren’t working out.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6Prayer in itself is a demonstration of both trust in God and acknowledgement of Him. However, if we only pray to give voice to what we want, then it is only a half measure. If we fully trust God, then we can’t just make requests, we have to accept whatever way he chooses to grant those requests. If we want to genuinely acknowledge God, we can’t just ask things of him, we have to accept his answers recognizing that they may not always be what we want to hear. If any of that sounds too difficult, just take inventory of the various decisions you made in your life without him. Would anything that God would do really hurt you more than some of the things you’ve done to yourself? If not, then doesn’t He deserve to be heard? Next time you pray to God for something, don’t just make your request, also ask for the wisdom and will to receive His response. Maybe then, you’ll see your faith rewarded in a brand new way.