The regular asking in prayer is actually a helpful reminder of just how needy we all remain. We are not self-sufficient but instead are entirely dependent on God’s grace.
I’m a nervous pray-er.
I don’t mean I’m nervous praying with other people; I mean that many times I’m nervous when I pray because I don’t know whether I’m praying for the right thing. It is as if sometimes my theology gets in the way of my prayers.
Let me explain.
I know, for example, that God is sovereign. As such, all the moments of our days are ordered, and even “a king’s heart is like channeled water in the Lord’s hand: He directs it wherever he chooses” (Prov. 21:1). I know, too, that God always acts in accordance with His will, and that His will is good and perfect even though we, as humans, might not understand how or why He makes the decisions He has made. His ways are not our ways, neither are his thoughts our thoughts (Is. 55:8-9).
These are things I know, and so these are things I bring with me to the closet of prayer. As a result, I find that I have the tendency to qualify my prayers. Maybe you know the feeling, too.
Let’s say that you have a big meeting coming up at work. It’s the kind of meeting where multiple things are coming together, maybe the summation of a big project or deal you’ve been working on. And you are nervous and anxious about this, so you pray:
Lord, for this meeting today, I pray that my proposal will be met favorably. At least, that is, if it’s your will. I hope it’s your will for it to go well. But if it’s not, then I pray that I would be able to handle it rightly.
That seems to me to be a very theologically informed prayer. Nothing wrong with that, except it’s almost like we are afraid to ask. But we should not be. We know this at some level – that we ought to have the faith to pray boldly – and yet still we struggle. But if you consider the reasons why we might be afraid to ask for something in other arenas of life, you quickly see that as Christians we really have nothing to fear. Here’s what I mean:
We do not fear the person.
One reason we might be afraid to ask for something is because we are afraid of the person we are asking. Perhaps our experience has told us that requests of this person are often met with anger, ridicule, or refusal. That they are too busy to listen to us or they are too self-occupied to consider the wants and needs of others. But this is not so with God.