Great things happen when we pray. It’s our open door to knowing God better and being in a close relationship with Him.
But what about those times when prayer doesn’t seem to be working? Maybe you feel frustrated in your prayer life. You might wonder if God is listening. Maybe you’ve asked yourself if prayer is really worth all the effort. Perhaps you feel disappointed because God does not seem to be answering.
These are very real experiences. I think I could safely say that nearly all of us have these kinds of struggles in some form or fashion in our prayer lives. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it is very important to evaluate why you might be feeling these things.
If you are struggling in prayer, one thing that might be helpful to look at is your expectations. Here’s a list of some expectations I found in my prayer life. Perhaps you’ve run across them, too.
• God will give me a clear answer to my prayer right now.
• Prayer is going to solve my problem and make my life easier.
• If I am faithful in prayer, God is going to work on my terms.
Seeing these expectations in a written list makes it seem as if these things are easy to spot. But believe me, they can remain well hidden behind our emotions and our limited perspectives. (We have an enemy that wants it that way, right?)
If we harbor these unrealistic things in our prayer lives, we might become disillusioned about prayer or even about God. So let’s take these unrealistic expectations and turn them into something more realistic with truths from God’s Word.
The Unrealistic Expectation: God will give me a clear answer to my prayer, right now.
God hears and answers our prayers. (See 1 John 5:14-15, Jeremiah 29:12-14, and 2 Chronicles 7:14.) The thing is, we don’t get to determine how or when God answers those prayers. The way is often unclear as we wait for God to work in our circumstance.
A Biblical Truth:
Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)
Can you see the beautiful picture reflected in this verse?
While we are waiting, the Lord is too. He is doing this because it is His great desire is to have compassion on us and give us grace. In this way, He will be exalted.
He is working even when we are exhausted, desperate, and at the lowest points in life. The unclear pathway before us is God working for our good. Our waiting is our worship.
The Realistic Expectation: God will answer my prayers, but the answer and the path ahead may seem unclear while I wait on Him. While I am waiting, He is too. In the waiting He is exalted. My waiting is my worship.Our waiting is our worship.Click To Tweet
The Unrealistic Expectation: Prayer is going to solve my problems and make my life easier.
A Biblical Truth:
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.(Psalm 34:17, NKJV)
This life is full of adversity, and God never said it wouldn’t be. But He promises to walk with us and He promises to deliver us. We often think of deliverance as a change in our difficult circumstances. But deliverance can come in other ways, one being through prayer.
Prayer helps us know God. Knowing God’s character restores our faith in what He is capable of doing and assures us of His deep love. Our difficult circumstances may not change, but neither does God. He is always the same. We can rely on Him.
The Realistic Expectation: My circumstances may not change, but through prayer, I can find deliverance. I can rely on God’s character, and I can know that He walks with me.Our difficult circumstances may not change, but neither does God. He is always the same. We can rely on Him.Click To Tweet
The Unrealistic Expectation: If I am faithful in prayer, God is going to work on my own terms.
A Biblical Truth:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9, NASB)
This one was tough to dig out of my own life. It took me a long time to realize I was expecting God to work on my own terms. This kind of unrealistic thinking was written all over my prayer life for a long time and caused me a lot of disappointment and frustration.
We have to realize that we are utterly incapable of understanding life in the same way as God. We live in the here and now. We have no ability to see things like God does. He sees the big picture and we don’t. Wether we realize it or not, we are not in control. We don’t get to decide how life should work. But His ways are far superior to ours, and He is always working for our good.
The Realistic Expectation: If I am faithful in prayer, I can find the strength to let God be in control. As far as the heavens are above the earth, His ways are higher than mine.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways. Isaiah 55:9Click To Tweet
It’s very easy to have unrealistic expectations, even in our prayer lives. It’s good from time to time to ask ourselves some hard questions to see if our expectations are unrealistic.
If you need some help with this, you might like to refer back to these two posts.
I’m also giving away a free worksheet to help you identify unrealistic expectations. You can find it HERE. And don’t forget, the Resource Library is FULL of resources for helping you have a more intentional prayer life. You can subscribe HERE or in the subscription box directly after this post.
Until next week,
The verses in this article are linked to their appropriate pages at Bible Hub where you will find many free resources for further study!
What kind of unrealistic expectations have you found in your own prayer life? How did you deal with them? Your answer will encourage others! Please feel free to leave a comment below!
Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you now with our unrealistic expectations. We lay them at your feet and ask you to take them. Fill our minds with the truth about your character and the love You have for us. Forgive us when we want to take control. Help us to surrender our own ideas about how things should be and surrender control to You instead. In Jesus name, Amen.
Next week we’ll look at what we can expect from God! I”ll have several free printables for you. Hope to see you then!
This post is linked in other encouraging places. Click HERE to find out where.
The post How to Handle Unrealistic Expectations in Your Prayer Life first appeared at www.journeytoimperfect.com.
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