- January 26, 2022
There are seasons in the Christian life that could be described as cooling off on prayer. They are seasons of prayerlessness. It happens mainly because of disappointment. How often have we faithfully gone to our knees in prayer, and it didn’t seem to make one bit of difference? It’s like our prayers never made it
There are seasons in the Christian life that could be described as cooling off on prayer. They are seasons of prayerlessness. It happens mainly because of disappointment. How often have we faithfully gone to our knees in prayer, and it didn’t seem to make one bit of difference? It’s like our prayers never made it past the ceiling. Have you ever struggled in your prayer life with disappointment? Has your prayer life cooled?
Prayerlessness is not always about a loss of faith. In fact, those who struggle with disappointment are usually people of great faith who are fully confident of God’s ability—but just don’t understand why their prayers haven’t resulted in a clear response from God. It’s more a feeling of, “What’s the point in praying if nothing ever changes? If God is sovereign and His will is already set in stone, then why bother with prayer?”
Cooling off on prayer generally happens because we don’t fully understand all that is accomplished in prayer. If we think a yes answer is the only definition of success in prayer, then we’re not understanding the full meaning and purpose of prayer. So, let’s talk about it.
The purpose of prayer is humility. It is a spiritual discipline that establishes our lives under God’s sovereignty. Jesus taught us this discipline in The Lord’s Prayer and in the Garden of Gethsemane by praying, “Thy will be done.” Humility declares, “God, here’s what I want, but you know better than me. I trust you. Please do it Your way. Let Your will be done.”
The posture of humble prayer establishes life under a divine sovereign order. In victory, God receives our thanksgiving. In loss, God receives our trust. Either way, God receives our praise. See Job 1:21.
There is a deep and unchangeable current in the sovereign will of God. No human prayer can change its course. Jesus and Paul were both swept into God’s sovereign plan, even after they pleaded in prayer for it to be changed. See Matthew 26:36-46 and II Corinthians 12:7-10.
My friends, if God was willing to say no to Paul and even to Jesus, then there will be times when He will say no to us. When He does, it puts us in good company as He entrusts us with His sovereign will.
It is a difficult truth, but there are times when the answer to prayer, even the prayer of the righteous, is a hard no. Accepting God’s sovereign will in a no answer takes true humility and discipline. The discipline of prayer keeps us in that humble place of sovereign order. Do you trust God enough to keep praying, even through seasons of disappointment?
The Passion of Prayer is Change
Our prayers seem most passionate when we are seeking to change a tragic course of events. We’ve all experienced desperate times of prayer where our greatest hope was a changed outcome, like healing from a terminal illness, or the restoration of a broken marriage, or the return of a lost child. Sometimes the answer is a resounding, Yes!, and we call it a miracle. It is an awesome experience to witness a full-on miracle where God clearly changes the course of events. The fact that such miracles still happen keeps passion in our prayers.
But God doesn’t always change the course of events – at least not the ones we’re concerned with. Sometimes He uses our obedience in prayer to change something else.
That’s what God did with Jesus and Paul. They both pleaded with God to change course, but God’s answer was no. God was doing something else, something bigger. Faith is no easy discipline!
The repentant people of Nineveh prayed, and God’s plan changed. Did you hear that? God had already set a date and time for their destruction, but when they heard about it, they prayed and repented, and God relented. His heart was changed by their prayers!
Moses prayed, and God relented from destroying the grumbling Israelites. My friends, sometimes prayer can cause change! It is the hope of change that puts passion in our prayers. And here’s the thing, we must pray passionately about everything because we don’t know what is set in sovereignty and what is changeable. This is why Paul urges us to include every situation in our prayers:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
Most importantly, prayer changes our hearts and the course of events within our realm of control. It is impossible to go before God with a sincere heart and not be changed by prayer. There’s a lot that happens when we pray!
The Pleasure of Prayer is Peace
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Of all the pleasures we can experience in this world filled with conflict, peace may be the greatest of all. Prayer releases the Christian from worry and bitterness and guilt and fear, and — well, it’s a long list.
My friends, there is so much more to prayer than just seeking yes answers. Frankly, if getting a yes answer is the only reason you pray, then it’s time to check your motivations. Selfishness may be the reason your prayer life has cooled. See James 4. If your prayerlessness is based on not getting what you wanted, then it’s time to repent and get back on your knees in prayer. We need you in the battle!
“The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; not those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time and pray” S.D. Gordon