In last week’s blog, I talked about fervency—praying with passion. Today, I’m talking about praying with urgency and arriving at confident expectancy. Fervency might look like urgency, yet they’re not the same. Fervency means we understand the importance of something, while urgency means we recognize (or assume) the necessity of immediate action. The following story, borrowed from a sermon given by one of the pastors in my church, illustrates urgency.
A little boy was struggling with how to dress himself. While pulling his sweater over his head, he got stuck in it. He couldn’t get his head through the hole, and he yelled, “Help, get me out of here! I can’t breathe! I’m dying!” Of course, that child was not dying; he panicked and imagined that he was. He thought that his situation was urgent—much more urgent than it actually was.
An excellent example of both urgency and fervency in prayer is that of a faith-filled preacher who continued to plead to God for the life of Don Piper long after medical experts had pronounced him dead. “90 Minutes in Heaven” (by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey) tells the rest of this amazing story of answered prayer. It also illustrates how God’s purposes and answers to prayer– though always for our ultimate good–are not always fulfilled in the way or in the time that we expect or desire them to be.
Like little children, we imagine our situation urgent when it is not. If we do not receive our self-designed instant miracle, we might pout or question God’s goodness; even then, God is “compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 103:8 NLT).
A few months ago, I found out that a dear friend had cancer; his situation called for passion and urgency, and I poured out my heart on his behalf. After awhile, as I wept and interceded for him, I sensed that God was going to heal him; I then, felt great peace. I continued to pray for him but no longer with a sense of urgency; instead, with the confident expectation of a positive outcome. God gave me words of Scriptures that confirmed and strengthened my faith—and my friend’s faith. On the day he was scheduled to have surgery, I felt confident that God would bring him successfully through it.
On that day, I still prayed, but I did not feel like a panicked child, afraid that God could not see or did not care about what was going on. I did not wonder about the outcome. When my husband shared the report of a successful surgery, I said, “I’m happy but not surprised.” That statement might sound arrogant, but I’m not sharing it to brag about my great faith. It’s taken a long time for me to arrive at the place of confidence that I, today, have in God’s ability and desire to answer my prayers. It feels refreshing to be able to relax and watch God do what he said he would do.
How has this expectant confidence that God will answer my prayers developed? I’m not totally sure. Primarily, I think it’s just a gift of his grace. I believe that becoming familiar with how he works, through my study of Scripture and practice of prayer, has been important factor.
To explain it more simply: It’s kind of like living in a close relationship with someone who loves you, for a long time. Forty-nine years ago, my husband said that he loved me. Then, I believed it in my head; now, I believe it in my heart. Based on a lifetime of experiences, I have a confident expectation that John will listen to my concerns and desires and do all he can to meet my requests in a way that will bring me happiness. Based on an even longer lifetime of living with Jesus, I have the same confident expectation. I know that he desires my best; therefore, he will answer my prayers in the way and time that will bring me the most ultimate and lasting joy.
Questions and thoughts to consider:
- What is your prayer journey like?
- Have you started one? It’s never too late to begin.
- Here’s an invitation: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4 NLT)
- Words of Jesus: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14 ESV)
If you want to, please share an experience of answered prayer or make a comment or ask a question.