If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you may have heard that God always answers prayer. Some may tell you “his response is yes, no, wait or sometimes he has a better idea that is completely different.”
I’ve never really liked that statement. It’s vague and makes my relationship with God sound like a computer calculation.
Input: data à Data processed by God à Output: answer.
If we don’t like the result, we either input new data or we begin troubleshooting the computers processing procedure until we either give up or get the output we want.
The material and experience of Moms in Touch International is teaching me a lot about prayer. Fern Nichols in Igniting a Passion to Pray discusses Spirit-directed prayer in this way:
“The Holy Spirit within us moves in our hearts, initiates our requests, and shows us how we should pray. Therefore, the focus is on God and not on the approval of others.”
Her intent with this comment is to help women feel more comfortable with praying aloud in small groups. However, I see something even bigger in her statement for even those who are comfortable with praying aloud in groups.
Prayer does not begin with data entry. It begins with listening to the Holy Spirit.
Two questions that make a difference in my prayer life:
- Do I listen before I speak?
- Are my words a response to what I’ve heard or just data entry submitted to God?
I am convinced that when we pray according to the Spirit rather than the flesh, God’s answer is always a strong and unchangeable “yes.”