One reason God does not answer our prayers is because we offer faithless requests. Sure we might pray to him but our faith in his ability to answer those prayers is tragically minimal.
In fact, one of the most tragically inaccurate statements concerning prayer is used in churches regularly:
“All we have left to do now is pray.”
Can you imagine what that sounds like to the ears of God?
- his very own children (1 John 3:1)
- whom he has created (Ps. 8:3-4),
- molded (Is. 64:8),
- carried (Deut. 1:30-31),
- gathered (Luke 13:34),
- adopted (Eph. 1:5),
- and blessed with every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)
- look at him and say, “You are our last resort.”
We are essentially saying, “God, we have tried everything. We have made all the attempts we know of to remedy our situation. We’ve checked with all the experts and we have come up with nothing. All we have left to do now is pray.”
Oh, how tragic our misconception is regarding the greatness of our God and the power of prayer!
After James instructs on how to ask God for wisdom, he also offers a warning concerning how we make our requests. Read the verses below and see the danger of faithless requests:
But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways. -James 1:6-8
James doesn’t say that the faithless man won’t receive anything, but he does say he shouldn’t expect to receive anything.
If you look at the Almighty God who owns everything in the world (Ps. 24:1) even down to the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10) and doubt that he is able to handle your requests, why should you expect to receive anything from his hand?
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who not only survived the Holocaust but also rescued many Jews during this horrific time in history. Her famous quote is a wonderful question to ask today:
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
This illustration begs to ask the question is prayer our first hope or our last ditched effort?
Has your prayer life been more of your steering wheel (what drives your life) or your spare tire (something to fall back on if everything goes out)?
I encourage you to spend some time in prayer today. And if you are struggling with faithless requests, then take some time to confess your skepticism and your doubts.
Ask God to provide a more accurate understanding of who he is and what he can do.
Then pray in faith knowing that “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.