Have you ever deceived yourself into thinking you were better at something than you really were? Of course you have. Everyone has at some point. It may be athletics, or academics, or making PB&J sandwiches. Whatever it is, someone came along who was faster, strong, and smarter than you, and you realized you weren’t “all that.”
This often happens in the area of prayer–or, rather, why we think God should answer our prayers the way we want Him to. Maybe we’re praying for someone to be healed, or for a new church to have an unprecedented launch, or for a new job. Whatever it is, we think God should answer our prayers exactly like we want Him to. Our reasons?
- “I’ve followed You for years. I deserve this.”
- “I’ve never cheated on my spouse, killed anyone, or kicked my dog. I deserve this.”
- “I’ve taken a huge risk, moving my family and placing my livelihood in the hands of financial donors to start this church. I deserve this.”
- “I’m a good person. I deserve this.”
We need to be reminded of the facts. Sometimes, we need a reality check.
The author of Psalm 143 asks God for deliverance from an enemy. In the opening verses, the author gives us his attitude as he approaches God. Look what he writes in Psalm 143:1-2,
Hear my prayer, O Lord ,
Give ear to my supplications!
Answer me in Your faithfulness, in Your righteousness!And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
God’s answer to our prayers has nothing to do with how good or faithful we think we are. God’s answer to prayer has everything to do with His faithfulness and goodness. All of the good things we’ve done gain us no favor with God because no one is righteous. His answer to our prayers–whatever it may be (and often it isn’t what we think it should be, which is better for us than what we want)–is totally dependent on His mercy and grace.
The proper attitude we must have in our prayers (in our lives) is one of humility, a reality check that realizes our sinfulness in contrast to His holiness. It is also one of gratitude for His grace and mercy through Jesus that declares us to be righteous.
The reality check: It isn’t how great we are, but how great God is.