The only way for us to really learn how to pray is to pray. You can learn certain principles about prayer through books and sermons to get you started. But you grow in the area of prayer only by experiencing God through prayer.
Let me give you an example. In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul the apostle shares an experience of his. He had sought the Lord three times for deliverance from what he calls the messenger of Satan buffeting him. But God did not grant Paul’s request. Rather, He responded, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).
I think we all would agree there was nothing wrong with Paul’s prayer. We should pray to God when we are under demonic assault. But sometimes, instead of simply granting our prayer requests, God wants us to experience Him. In Paul’s case, God wanted him to experience His grace in the form of His power that is perfected in our weaknesses. And how did Paul respond to what God told him? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (verse 9b).
So what should be our take away from Paul’s experience? For one thing, we should not assume that just because we pray to God and our request seems reasonable that His answer is always yes. Sometimes, it isn’t. It is necessary for us to walk with God so we can discern what His answer is to us. This is the dimension of prayer we rather avoid. Staying pregnant with a prayer request until we understand what God is saying to us can be agonizing. But this is God calling us to experience Him through prayer.
Finally, we need to be willing to accept God’s answer to our prayers. We must be willing to do that even when His answer is worlds away from our requests. Why? Because God always knows best. Only He fully understands His purpose for our life. And He can work with us more completely when we bring ourselves in line with His perfect will for us. Paul the apostle understood this and, hence, he gladly embraced the Lord’s answer.
So do you need to hear from God in your life? If you pray in faith, He will answer you. But knowing what the answer is may take you on an experience with God.
Copyright 2014 by Frank King. All rights reserved.