- What you say. (are you praying for the storm to pass or the patience) Since we know that God listens, it'd be great to start by analyzing what we say to Him. Many times, we come to God with this prayer outline or script. We recite the Lord's Prayer, or say "heavenly Father" at the beginning or end of every sentence, or start with forgiveness, then move to what we want, and end with thanksgiving. There's nothing wrong with any of that, but we have to be careful that those things don't become simple repetitions. I think it's important to realize that there aren't any special phrases that we need to say to get God's attention. You got His attention when you started talking to Him. It's also important to realize what you pray for must align with His will if you want His approval on it. I think that's where we get confused and discouraged, because it seems that a God that apparently loves me and cares about me would give me what I want. It's even in the Bible! Psalm 37:4 says He'll give me the desires of my heart! My desire is this car, or some more money...tomorrow. However, before it talks about you getting what you want, Ps. 37:4 also says that you'll get that when you delight yourself in God. I believe that this means that when you want what God wants, He'll give you what you want (say that 3 times fast lol). Now, it's not a trick or anything. It actually works for you when you realize that God wants to give you things that will be good for you, and not just good to you. This sometimes requires us to stop praying for the storm to pass, and to instead pray for the strength and patience to withstand it. I read that praying according to God’s will includes the need to pray in faith (Matt. 21:22; James 1:6), with patience (Luke 18:1–8), in obedience (Ps. 66:18; 1 Pet. 3:12), and in recognition that God knows what is best in all circumstances (Luke 22:42; Rom. 8:28; 1 Pet. 4:19). This takes a lot of time, because in order to pray for things in God's will, I have to know who God is. I have to listen to what He says. I've got to learn about Him, and try to understand why He does what He does. I've got to trust that while I want 'this', He knows 'that' is better for me. I've got to have a relationship with Him. I can definitely tell you that the longer I've known God, the more my prayer list has changed, and as my prayer list changed, my 'why' changed as well.
- Why? I personally believe that why we pray for certain things is just as (if not more) important as what we pray for. We can pray for good things and have bad intentions. We can also pray for good things, and not know what to do with them when we get it, because we prayed for something we wanted, but never really needed. This can be dangerous, because everything in your life is giving glory to something; it's your job to ensure that glory goes to God, and that the gift doesn't become more important than The Giver. I've asked this question before, but I'm gong to ask it again: why do you want it? If you prayed for something, and God said "why?", what would your answer be? Why do you pray for the things that you put before God? Is there a mission behind it? Or a mess? Sometimes, we pray for things to prove other people wrong. We want to show off on an ex or somebody that hurt us. Let me help you out a bit: you'll get more if you pray for God to heal that pain than you will if He gave you anything material. Your intentions and motivations behind your prayers reveal what's really happening inside of your heart & mind. Sometimes, we need to pray for better answers to the question "why". Praying with a heart full of hurt, pain, and bitterness won't get you very far. Better hearts pour out better prayers, and better prayers get better answers.
- 'No. Now what?' What do you do when God says no? I've yet to meet anybody who gets a 'yes' from God to every prayer they pray, and that's ok, it's apart of the journey. So it's important to examine what we do (and how salty we get) when what we get doesn't match up with what we wanted. It's easy to celebrate when you & God are on the same page; it's those 'no's from Him that can hit where it hurts. I've gotten quite a few of those 'no's, and I've learned to accept them (regardless of how they feel). How? I keep living. Eventually, I look back, and see that He did in fact know what He was talking about. My favorite example is the fact that I used to literally pray for boyfriends (I was a teen & felt like everybody had somebody but me, don't judge me lol). I knew who I wanted. I just knew that we'd be great together, and that if God just aligned Himself with my desires, I'd have the most amazing life of all time. GOOD GOD WAS I WRONG!!! (hahaha) I'm still cool with most of those guys, and most of them are good men. They've got houses, degrees, and all of that lovely stuff, BUT there's a great price that I would've had to pay if God gave me what I wanted. I would have a lot more wounds. I've have quite a bit of heartbreak. I'd probably have the lowest trust level of all time (lol) because there's a lot about who they were then that I didn't see. Beyond that, there were jobs and other opportunities that I wanted, that I now recognize would've done more harm than good. So, take it from me, trust God's 'no'. He's doing more for you than you think. He's keeping you from some stuff. He's keeping you from some pain. You don't like it. I honestly don't think you were supposed to, but you do need to trust it. He's been leading people for a while. His plans and His ways are higher, so you may not understand them until you grow a little more, trust me as I tell you to trust Him.
Background Music: I Know What Prayer Can Do - Kevin Davidson