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Be Careful What You Pray

Have you heard this adage? “Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true.” A powerful statement. It means that sometimes we get what we want but we later find out the thing we sought isn’t what we needed. An example might be a young person’s desire for fame. When they achieve the fame they sought, they realize that they are more lonely, depressed, and anxious than they have ever been. How disappointing.


This adage has theological value, especially as it relates to prayer. Just as we need to be careful what we wish for, we also need to be careful what we pray. Let me explain.


When I became a Christian, I prayed, “God, make me a man of God.” God answered this request, but He did it in a way that entailed tremendous difficulty. The first year of my Christian life was a trial. Loneliness was my constant companion. It seemed as if I moved from one discouragement to another. When I asked God to make me into a man of God, I did not know how God would answer that. I was ignorant. Nonetheless, God was faithful. He showed His faithfulness in a way that I did not expect, nor enjoy.


The Bible teaches over and over that God answers prayers. Magnificently so. God hears us. He can and will grant you what you ask. When we pray, though, we give our requests over to God. We surrender the request to Him. We relinquish our “control.” Prayer signifies our belief that God has the ability and the right to answer our requests as He sees fit. The Lord Jesus modeled this, when he said, “Not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39).


Pray passionately and frequently. Tell God what you want and need. While you pray, remember that God is sovereign. He is in control of the situation. God will answer our prayers, but He might do so in a way that we might not expect or enjoy. We trust Him still. We confess with the Psalmist, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps 115:3).


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