My son Caleb is always asking me questions. There are times when he asks things like “do cows make ice cream?” In a round about way the answer to that question is yes. Other times he asks will me tougher, more deep questions like “what is sin?” It surprises me sometimes the range of questions a 5 year old will come up with. Most of his questions are more along the lines of, “Daddy can I ride my bike?” or “Daddy can I have this toy?” When he asks me this type of question there is no doubt as to what his will is. His will is to ride his bike or play with a certain toy. When my will does not match his will conflict occurs, which may lead to a grumpy face and sometimes ultimately to him spending time with his nose against the wall in time-out. Recently, I realized that I needed to spend some time with my nose against the wall after asking my Heavenly Father for something.
I thought what I was asking for was God’s will. I thought it all made perfect sense. I even went so far as to feel that I was sacrificing and that God would be honored by what I wanted to do. Wasn’t this what God wanted for me? Wasn’t this his will for me and my family? I prayed so hard for God to move and make things work out the way that I thought that they should. I would wake-up every morning praying and go to bed each night praying. Didn’t Jesus say in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you“? I asked. I asked a lot. When God did not move in the direction that I thought made sense, I had that split second when I got all grumpy face and wanted to fall down on the ground kicking and screaming. Though it only lasted for a second, it was still there and I had to repent.
You see, I believe that we have a misunderstanding of prayer, especially prayers of supplication. Many times we approach God with prayer believing we know what should happen and that if we would just pray hard enough and long enough we can get what we want. If God can just see how good we are and listen to our prayers, He will bless us with what we want. This is messed-up thinking! Daniel had it right when he prayed, “O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy” (Daniel 9:18). Did you catch that? Daniel was not presenting his request because he thought he was right and the request was righteous, but because he trusted in a God who is merciful. In the same way, it is not our quantity, quality, or the righteousness of our prayers, or our own righteousness, that move God to act. It is His mercy that moves God. We need to have the same attitude that Daniel had. In verse 19 Daniel is continuing to pray for forgiveness and mercy. This needs to be our physical and spiritual posture in prayer…..humbleness.
It is in humbleness that we ask God to move in our lives, and it is in humbleness we accept God’s answer to our prayers. It is in humbleness that our will is changed. It is in humbleness that we grow an become more like Christ. And isn’t that our goal as Christians?
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:2b