Have you ever noticed the way young children will hear a phrase and latch onto it for a while? They’ll use that phrase in nearly every conversation, sometimes in the funniest context.
My nine-year-old nephew’s phrase of choice this past weekend was, “in some cases.”
Nephew: “In some cases.”
Me, after wishing him a happy birthday: “I’m glad you had fun. You know, I think you’re the coolest kid, and I love you.”
Nephew: “Uh huh. In some cases. Yes, yes you do.”
Me: “No. In all cases.”
That conversation made me think of how we often approach prayer.
We don’t go to God truly expecting Him to grant our request or provide for our need. Instead, our hearts are filled with this flimsy wish, as if we’re asking in the hopes that He’ll be in the mood to do something nice for us. Prayer with that kind of non-expectation is like saying God wants to help His children, only in some cases.
For much of my life, I equated hope with faith. Though hope is the necessary foundation faith is built upon, they aren’t the same thing. Hope is the wish, the desire, the longing for the need to be met. Faith is the unquestioning expectation that God will meet that need.
I think my main setback in this area was a fear of being arrogant toward God. I mean, how could I dare to say I knew, for example, that God wanted to and would heal me? Wasn’t that being demanding and presumptuous?
Jesus’ words contradict that kind of thinking.
According to Him, we should know our Heavenly Father wants to give us what we need and the good things we desire.
“If your children ask for bread, which of you would give them a stone? Or if your children ask for a fish, would you give them a snake? Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11 (NCV).
And, according to Jesus, we are supposed to expect Him to do so.
“So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you.” Mark 11:24 (NCV).
After all, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT).
Often, we ask for something like healing, but think God might say, “No, it isn’t my will. I’m letting you stay sick so you’ll learn something.” That’s like holding our palms out to our dad for food and thinking he’ll hand us a deadly snake instead.
The revelation of this truth was a major milestone along my path to receiving the miracle I wrote about last week.
Just as my heart overflowed when I heard my nephew giggle in joy over his birthday gifts, so our Heavenly Father rejoices with us when our faith allows Him to answer our prayers.