“…they suppose they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7).
We all suppose we will be heard for one reason or other, otherwise we’d stop praying.
What assumptions are you making? Here are a few erroneous positions we sometimes take.
WE EXPECT TO BE HEARD FOR OUR MANY WORDS.
I’ve actually seen books devoted to teaching us how to pray several hours a day. As if the Lord needs this and we gain some kind of medals by piling up the hours. Our Catholic friends are known to pray the Rosary hundreds of times in order to do something–convince God of our sincerity or earn His favor, or something.
That said, I confess that often in the mornings when I am trying to get my mind awake and focused on the Lord in order to do some serious praying, I will repeat the Lord’s Prayer several times. This is not in order to build up anything with the Lord, but to break through my foggy brain.
WE EXPECT TO BE HEARD FOR OUR RELIGIOUS WORDS.
Some prayer “experts” (how I despise that term, as though some children are better at talking to the Parent than the rest of us) teach us to “pray Scripture.” And there is a lot to be said for that. However, piling up quotations from God’s word in our prayers does not impress the Lord, does not improve our prayers, and does not guarantee any kind of response. The main reasons for adding Scripture to our prayers are to help us focus better, teach us what to ask for, and to purify our minds so we can have a clear channel, so to speak.
WE EXPECT TO BE HEARD FOR OUR INTENSE WORDS.
Doesn’t Scripture promise that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much”? (James 5:16).
A large segment of the Christian community seems to hold strongly to the view that intensity in prayer–usually interpreted as volume, emotion, and tears–is the ultimate evidence of our faith.
Faith is the element we should be striving for, not contrived emotion or practiced fervor.
WE EXPECT TO BE HEARD FOR OUR SINCERE WORDS.
Someone says, “Why didn’t God hear my prayer? I was so sincere!” The answer in most cases is a simple, “He did hear your prayer. And the answer was ‘no.'”
I’ve known of people who walked away from their Christian profession because they did not get what they asked for in prayer. They wanted their child to be healed, but she died. Their mother died prematurely, in spite of all their sincere prayers. A certain job they longed for and had prepared for did not come through. God failed them, they decided, and so, what’s the point in being a Christian if you are not going to get what you want.
They don’t phrase it so crassly, but that’s what they are doing.
You have to wonder if such church dropouts don’t think the Lord might have plans they know nothing of, that He might have wisdom they don’t, that he may be up to something which He hasn’t told them about, and therefore they should trust Him even when they cannot see His purpose.
There are plenty of good assumptions we may make, however…
1) I assume the Lord is there and He sees, hears, and cares. It’s what a loving parent does.
2) I assume my prayers are being dealt with on a heavenly realm even if I do not see the results. In fact, as we have dealt with elsewhere, most of the things for which I pray, I never know if they are granted or not. I am not alongside my missionary friends in Portugal or Italy, not in the Oval Office with the President, and not in the classroom with my grandchildren. So, I take by faith that my prayers are heard and answered.
3) I assume that my stumbling, bumbling attempts to communicate with the Father are acceptable to Him even though they are pitifully inept.
4) I assume that even when I don’t feel like praying, but go ahead and pray anyway, it’s the right thing to do.
5) I assume someone is praying for me. They must be, since the Lord’s hand is so clearly protecting and blessing me far beyond anything I ask or think.