One of the healthiest things we can do is check our assumptions. What are we assuming that we might not have even thought we were? Why are we assuming that? What led to that assumption?
Prayer is one of those things that most of us are down with. We do it at some level, and we think it’s a good thing to do. When we ask if we can pray for someone, almost no one ever says “no,” even if they’re not a Christian.
But we don’t know WHY we do it, what it’s supposed to accomplish, or even how we do it. And we have a lot of assumptions around it that we may never have examined closely:
Some (maybe even many) of the things we assume about prayer, we may not have thought about consciously or spoken aloud.
But they still powerfully frame our perspective and experiences.
Some of you can be cynical about prayer. It’s not that you think it’s a bad thing, but when you pray wholeheartedly, and it goes unanswered, it has a powerful influence on your mindset.
Conversely, some hedge your bets because you don’t want to ask or expect too much. “If it be your will.”
One of the great hindrances to prayer is fear.
Prayer is a specialized conversation with God. We talk differently to our spouses, than we do our best friend, than we do God. The relationship we have frames the conversation we have.
This is where we might run into challenges and confusion with prayer. We misunderstand or struggle with prayer because we misunderstand the purpose of our relationship with God or struggle with it. As a result, we have the wrong conversation with God. One that carries the wrong assumptions.
Think about all the relationships you have. Each of those relationships has a different lens through which you see it; therefore, you have different assumptions and expectations of each. If you mixed those up, it would get confusing.
And without a clear understanding of the relationship comes many assumptions about God. We often have a very transactional relationship with God because we’ve never cultivated anything deeper. And so, our sense of need takes center stage.
Have you ever had someone in your life who only talked to you when they wanted or needed something?
Our requests or our sense of need can even become its own God. Yes, we bring it to God, but we really want God to give us what we want.
“What you adore will either heal you or destroy you. When you pray, if you adore your requests more than you adore Jesus, you are asking Him to resource your idolatry.
~ Mike Plunket
Now, God does care about your needs. He has promised to provide for your needs. He even cares about your wants. Just as a parent cares about their child’s wants, but it goes so much deeper than that. It’s a part of your relationship, but it’s not the purpose of the relationship.
And the good news is that God meets us in the middle.
Leprosy was a death sentence – a long, dreadful, lonely road to the end. Lepers were kicked out of society and shunned. In Bible times, you couldn’t get within 6 feet of a person with leprosy, and you certainly couldn’t touch them.
The tricky thing about prayer is that we usually get some of the assumptions right but not all of them. In this scenario, there’s a need that needs to be met that no one else can meet, an understanding that Jesus is able, and a question about whether He is willing.
And this is part of the struggle. We all know the power of God and that He is able, but is He willing? We might think, “Is my need something He even notices?”
But look how Jesus responds.
Jesus doesn’t just speak from a distance; He goes far beyond. He touches. And He didn’t need to do this.
Wherever you are, and whatever questions you have about God’s willingness, He’s not just content to answer them from a distance. He comes close in precisely the way you need. Do you believe that He’s willing? Will you risk letting him?
If we have placed our faith in Jesus, there’s an assumption that God can do the impossible. God can move and heal, but the first thing He may want to heal is our assumptions of His willingness.
Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance but taking hold of God’s willingness. Or letting God’s willingness take hold of us.
The best way to understand God’s will and live in it is to check our assumptions through relationships. And the way we build and deepen that relationship is through prayer.
We have assurance that God hears us, listens, and knows what we need. From that assurance, we can change our assumption that not only does He hear us, but He is willing.
So, do you believe that God is able AND willing? Do you believe that He hears you? What assumptions do you have of God that you’ve never really surfaced and addressed?
For more LHC content, subscribe to our newsletter below or follow us on Instagram.
Want to play catch-up, or are you looking for a specific topic? Check out our collection of sermons here.