After making a prayer, do you really expect it to be answered?
We are good at managing or even lowering our expectations so that when things do not turn out as planned, we will not get too disappointed.
We often think this mechanism can keep us happy and protect us from getting hurt, but as time goes by, one comes to realize this does not bring joy. We may grieve the loss of things to look forward to. We may even stop asking.
A lot of times we apply the same mechanism to our prayer life. We may lower our expectations (“maybe God won’t answer my prayer… but hey, it’s God’s will, not mine right?”), or filter our requests (“this request is too trivial / too wild… I shouldn’t pray for it”).
Yet if we are used to this mechanism, our prayer life becomes stagnant. The less we expect our prayer to be answered, the less we pray, and the farther our heart drifts from God, and the less we expect our prayer to be answered. It is a downward spiral.
God asks us to pray with faith, and God wants us to pray with expectancy.
Jesus taught us that “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11.24) Note that it says “have received” and not just “to be received”. This is such a high level of expectancy – not only to expect that God has heard our prayer and will answer it but to expect that God has already answered it.
But what is the answer we should expect? It is not so much the results or the “what” that we asked for; rather it is the reassurance that God is involved and is sovereign in all circumstances we are praying in/for. In other words:
We can expect that our prayer is “answered” by God already because we believe that God is involved already.
A lack of that expectancy may be an indicator of our doubts as to whether God will respond or whether God cares. This is how James describes a person who asks with doubts: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1.6)
It is normal to have doubts – if you find yourself not completely believing in what you pray for, try to identify specifically what your doubts are and where they come from, and submit them to God. If you are able to be honest with God and allow God to minister to you, this posture of humility and submission will draw you closer to God.
The closer our heart is to God, the stronger our relationship is with God, and the more natural it is to pray with expectancy. The more expectantly we pray, the more God shows his sovereignty.
How should we start? “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (Psalm 5.3) Start every day with a prayer, dedicate the entire day to God, then “wait expectantly” – expect God to be actively involved in every part of the day and pray with a heart of expectancy.