A New Way of Looking at Prayer

Whenever I pray, I really do believe my prayer will be answered, but what does that mean in everyday life?  Does my thinking and do my reactions change?  I know a lot has been written about believing prayer in the area of finances.  When I pray about financial difficulties, I am to stop thinking thoughts of scarcity, poverty, penny pinching, and the like.  I am to be reasonable, asking God for help in how to use my money, making wise and prayerful decisions, but not any longer thinking anxious thoughts of not being able to make ends meet.

What I had never before thought about, until challenged by someone on it, is how do I think about the difficult people I’ve been praying about?  If someone has been very unreasonabe, unkind or downright mean, and I’ve been praying that God will meet whatever need in their lives is causing the behavior, how do I then think about them and react to them?  Do I cringe whenever I have to work a project with this person?  Do I expect them to be unreasonable?  Do I get defensive because I expect further meanness, having seen it so often before?  If I really believe God is working in that person’s life, then isn’t every day to be a new day in my relationship with them?  Isn’t every encounter to be without prejudice, as though there were no negative history?  If I can’t clear out my own negative thinking in this way, I may be contributing to the situation.  Surely the person can tell by my subtle body language and tone of voice that something is amiss.  If I really believe God is working, I must believe the best and expect the best of the person.   Ironically, my good expections may help make positive changes easier for them.

Similarly, in a relationship with an unbeliever, previous hostility may make me quiet about my faith, making it even less likely the person may come to know the Jesus I love.  When I pray that God will give a person the gift of faith, that He will remove their doubts and make it easier for them to believe, do I really believe He is answering that prayer?  If I really believe, I can have no preconception about how they will respond to me.  I must share my thoughts and beliefs as openly and honestly as I would with anyone friendlier to me.  This is honest and transparent, an honoring way to relate to anyone.  If they are hostile, I can be honest about my hurt, but make sure tomorrow is a new day and I will continue to be authentic about who I am.  I’m not talking about “preaching” to anyone, but about just being who I am.

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