Think about the way you pray. Especially the times when there is a legitimate concern and you are pleading with God and pleading with God. Don’t those prayers goes something like this? “Lord I know that You can do this.” Or, “Father I Trust You that You can handle this for me.”
Now I speak to this subject ALL of the time, and for those of you that have heard me before, you know that I use Mark 11:24 when I discuss this subject, namely, using the word “can” when you pray. Mark 11:24 says, “When you pray, pray believing that you have already received it.” Now compare that to you saying, “Lord I know that You can do this.”
Do you hear the subtle difference?
Try to look honestly at your “I know You can” prayers. My experience is that when I hear people praying that way I get the sense that they are doubting while they pray. The problem with doubting while you pray, of course, is James 1:6-7 which says “When you pray do not doubt, and if you do doubt you ought not to expect to receive ANYTHING from the Lord.”
Now here’s the other problem that I have with the “Lord I know You can” prayers, and that is 1 John 5:14 and 15, which talks about the confidence that we are to have, when we are praying. The confidence is to be there, because we know that we’re praying God’s will. In fact I think this passage is also saying the same thing as Mark 11:24, if you know that you’re praying God’s will, then pray that you have already received your request.
I started this off by talking about “pleading” with God, and that “pleading” causing us to pray “I know You can” prayers. Let me be careful to speak and it not be out of the other side of my mouth, when I say, do not confuse pleading with fervency. God gives some people the opportunity to be fervent about a particular subject while others are not. I think God hears fervent prayers differently than he does other prayers (James 5:16). So again, the point is not about your fervency, the point of this post is about your pleading and using the word “can” when you address God.
So what causes us to use the word “can” when we pray? I believe one simple word sheds light on this issue…faith.
I know that you have faith that God “can” do something, I hear the way you pray. And what I hear is not your lack of faith that God can do what you ask, but your lack of faith that God WILL do what you ask.
That’s the problem isn’t it?
And it is rooted in faith. Let me demonstrate why I believe this is accurate.
You have a daughter or a granddaughter that is born and you start praying for her salvation. You are very comfortable praying that God is already in the process (Mark 11:24) of working out the details for her to become saved, after all, He has said that He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), and he has also said that when you delight yourself in Him He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). So praying that God is ALREADY in the process (Mark 11:24) of saving your cute little innocent daughter or granddaughter is pretty easy to do, and you KNOW that it’s God’s will (1 John 5:14-15), so you also do not have to doubt her future salvation (James 1:6-7) right?
But now you start praying for your 35 year old hellion son and your prayers are very different, aren’t they? Now think about this, what is the only difference? The person is different, but the verses from above haven’t changed, have they? What is the only thing that is different? The only difference is, I believe, your faith, because of what you are seeing. Now remember what faith is, Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” or, in other words, if you have to see it happening before you believe it, it’s not faith!
Let’s back up for a moment. Why can you pray with the confidence that you do for your daughter or granddaughter? There’s only one reason, and that is the truths that you know are in scripture. One of the truths is Psalm 37:4, where we are told that “when you delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart.” There are also passages in both the New Testament and the Old Testament that say that God is not willing that any should perish (one is 2 Peter 3:9).
So if the verses are the same for your daughter and for your son, what’s the difference? The difference is you, and your lack of faith because what you are clearly seeing.
Let me reiterate something so that you have a clear balance on this important foundation of prayer. Our faith is not in what God can do, because of who He is. Our faith is in what God will do, because of who He is.
We pray about what God can do, because it’s what we want, instead of searching His Word to find what He will do because of who He is.
I’ll never forget arguing with a college student on this one Sunday morning. He kept telling me that you, “Cannot know God’s will.” And I only had one response for him. It’s the same one that I will give you now. If I cannot know God’s will, then the Holy Spirit clearly made a mistake every time He talks about us praying God’s will.
You see I think we get so wrapped up in praying what we want, that we do not take the time to open our Bible and wrestle with God in prayer until we get a peace about what He wants.
A few caveats need to be expressed here:
- I am NOT saying do not “plead” with God.
- I am NOT saying God will give me the selfish desires of my heart.
- I AM saying He will show you His will, BUT it may simply be your next step.
- I guess I’m saying one more thing too. Let me say this gently to you, be embarrassed the next time you use the word “can” when you pray.
Love you guys, and I’ll talk to you next week.
Mark S Mirza
Common Thread Ministries