It is the basis of all great close up magic; the magician gets you focused on what doesn’t matter so you miss what is really going on. Whether you fall for this ploy (almost everyone does) or you are able to remain focussed on what is really happening (very few can) the result is still the same, the trick ends with the desired outcome of the illusionist. Barring some catastrophic failure, what was intended to happen from the moment the trick was conceived will play out in front of your eyes.
How we pray tells us a lot about what we have come to believe about how prayer works.
I never intended to create a series out of this but what started as a single post Are You Praying Right, was expanded in Godly Expectancy, and as far as I can tell will be concluded in this post today, but you never know.
Hidden in our upbringing are applications of biblical truths that have meandered away from their original intention:
- Prayer can become about the words contained in it. This causes a high value to be placed on the “right” combination and the “right” order as if God needs to be conjured up through incantations.
- Prayer can also be focused on the size of my faith rather than the faithfulness of God which leads us to believe that what we want coupled with the right amount of faith will make what we ask for a sure thing.
Prayer should be a way to communicate or dare I say, dump everything on God from my opinions to my feelings, from my dreams to my disappointments so that I can then be free of my preconceived notions on what is happening, why it’s happening and how it should be addressed.
It’s the limitations of our human abilities and the fact we can only guess what the future holds that hinders us.
Just as an illusionist draws your attention to one thing, our minds draw our attention to one thing; what we know. We know only what we know (logical!) so we create a strategy based on the pieces of our problems (what we know) interacting with each other to lead to a preferable outcome. On the other hand, God’s plan often addresses each issue separately because His solution does not rely on what we know. Not only does God add variables that we cannot predict because they are outside of what we know at the time, He also often employs the miraculous which is always beyond what we, as mere humans, can know or fully comprehend.
God is not an illusionist; we are the ones that focus somewhere else and miss what is going on.
Often we are not focussed on what God is doing or at least focussed on waiting to see what God is doing, we are focussed on God doing what we think He should be doing. It is tough to suspend our logical minds. We respond to what we see, hear and experience, formulating our plans, dreams and expected outcomes based on our perception of reality which is confined by the limitations of our human existence. Our attention may be drawn to the reality of our present situation but that doesn’t stop God. In the end, just like a well performed magic trick, the outcome is spectacular even if we are looking somewhere else.
If we remember that God is working in ways that often do not conform to our perspective, we are more likely to stop being fixated on what is happening, why it’s happening and how it should be addressed based on our point of view. Once our point of view ceases to dominate what we are focussed on we start to live in Godly expectancy. Once we live in Godly expectancy we look for God to restore our lives without telling Him what restoration looks like.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
God’s perfection and holiness backed by His miraculous power will produce more than our simplistic human ideas can ever conceive.