“And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea.” 2 Ch. 33:13
Can the Lord always be moved by his children’s earnest entreaties? If so, why aren’t so many of our pleas answered according to our wishes? Surely the Lord is sovereign over all and he is absolutely free to make his own decisions, and we just have to accept whatever is handed down to us.
Is this rather difficult for us to accept? On a deeper level of understanding, we may wonder that if this is so, why do we even pray at all, since all things have already been preordained and our petitions will not make the slightest difference. Unfortunately, this mindset is rather fatalistic, causing us to quit praying to God altogether.
Do we all measure the efficacy of our prayers by the way they are answered, and are we inclined to believe that we pray in vain if our wishes aren’t granted in our favor? Moreover, we may put the blame on ourselves if our requests are rejected by God, assuming that it’s because of our lack of faith or persistence in our prayers that they are not effective.
Come to think of it, how can we, mere humans, look at the issue at hand otherwise? From a human point of view, reception and rejection is such a clear cut kind of thing and to consider it otherwise is merely a self-defensive mechanism, making an apology for God’s inaction and the lack of conviction and desperation in our prayers.
The problem that we are dealing with has always been and will always be the way we perceive reality. We simply are incapable of seeing beyond what’s seen with our naked eyes and are blinded to the invisible, where the mysterious, including the power and efficacy of human prayers, is kept hidden.
If so, what does it mean when we are exhorted to pray in faith? Isn’t faith the confidence that the Lord will listen to our entreaties and will likely be moved by our sincerity and zeal and, consequently, will grant us our wishes accordingly? Isn’t this what motivates us to pray unceasingly?
I feel like I have raised more questions than answers bringing up all these issues, for what we have witnessed in reality doesn’t seem to be all that consistent with what we have been instructed concerning the topic of prayer. If this is not enough, how are we supposed to understand the Lord Jesus’ promise in the book of Matthew: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
What’s the solution to this dilemma then? Shall I continue to pray without expecting my will to be done in the slightest, or quit praying to God altogether, convinced that my prayer will not make a smidge of difference in the scheme of things? I suppose the answer to this may lie somewhere in between.