I can’t even recall how many prayers I have prayed feeling like they never reached the ears of God. It’s almost like the ceiling and I are playing ping pong with my words. While there may be a number of reason for this, there is one that God brought to my attention through a sermon my Joe gave a little while back.
It all had to do with the 3rd commandment. The one that says that I should not take the name of the Lord in vain.
Misusing God’s name does not just happen when his name is used as swear word, exclamation mark or even a comma. Here is what got my attention: One way to break the 3rd commandment is by not believing him. When I pray and immediately think, “God’s not going to answer anyway.” When I pray without faith I am dishonoring the name of God therefore breaking the third commandment.
It makes him either an idol—which has ears and hears not; or a liar—who promises mercy to the penitent—but will not make good his word. - Thomas Watson
"He who believes not God, has made him a liar." 1 John 5:10.
It’s not really the ceiling that blocks my prayers, it's my faithless heart.
Therefore I need to:
1. Pray with God's Promises and Character in Mind
Thinking about the character of God will give me confidence and boldness in my prayers. How can I ever doubt a God who is perfectly good in everything he does?
He is always good - Psalm 136:1
He always does what is right - Psalms 119:137-138
He hears the prayers of his children - Psalms 65:2
He is merciful - Eph 2:4-5
He is generous - Matt. 7:11
He is faithful - 1 Cor. 1:9
2. Learn a Better Way To Pray
Oh boy, it is so easy to rattle off a list of wishes to God, similar to how I'll send my husband a text with a list of things to pick up on his way home. Sometimes there are a few “serious” requests, but rarely do I bring these requests before God with serious passion and great confidence that God will act.
But that is exactly what my prayers need -- what I need: zeal, fervor, lively faith! If the need is big and my faith is real how can I not pray with passion and great confidence, expecting big things from God? Praying with a distrusting heart mocks God. But the prayer of faith lays hold of his promises and his character leading to bold and passionate prayers.
3. Look for Answers
We often think, when praying, that what we need is God's gifts. But when they do not arrive what do we have? We have God himself. God comes into our life in new fullness, imparting to us more of his love and grace. We have an answer better than we sought. The Giver is better than his best gifts.
We may ask God to lift away our burdens. But to do this would rob us of blessings which can come to us only through the bearing of the burden; and our Father loves us too well to give us present ease—at the cost of future and eternal good. J.R. Miller
When I pray I need to be looking for answers to those prayers. I need to anticipate God moving in my life through my prayers, but that does not mean he will always answer them to my liking. Here again knowledge of the character of God will help me understand and submit to God’s ways with a determination to be thankful always. His ways are not my ways but his ways are always loving and righteous.
Prayers that break through the ceiling and enter the throne room of heaven and are carried to the ears of God are still imperfect prayers, but they are prayers offered in faith. Lord, help me to grow in this. I believe you will.