When Prayers Become Presumption
by Beverly Brown, Set Me Free Ministries Prayer Coordinator
This past Saturday, our Set Me Free Ministries Team rose before the sun in order to prepare for the 1st Annual Set Me Free Run. We had been preparing for months for this day. One of the ways we prepared was with prayer, as we do for all of our events. But something was a little different with this event. I began to pray very specifically, thanking God for providing the number of runners and walkers we felt we should have. Our sights were set high, but we knew God was up to the task. Every time I would pray, I would thank God for providing this very specific number. And every time I would pray, I would get anxious.
Philippians 4:6 says, "Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
I want to point out two key points in this scripture that are contrary to my prayer. First, the scripture cautions us to be anxious for nothing, and secondly, we are to let our "requests" be made known to God. I was doing neither. I was anxious, and I was telling God what we wanted instead of simply requesting His best.
But I continued to pray. "God, I thank you that you are going to provide us with this number of runners and walkers." I would be driving in the car or doing the dishes, and I would toss up one of those "thank you" prayers. And I would get anxious, because, to be honest, it seemed overwhelming.
Then one day, Stephanie called me. "Mom, I don't think we are praying biblically. I don't think we should be telling God what we need. We should be asking Him to provide us with what we need, whatever that might be. That includes provision, as well as the number of runners and walkers we will have that day."
As soon as she said that, I knew she was right. And you know what happened? The anxiety left, and a peace settled in. I could now pray according to His perfect will knowing that His ways are perfect.
How often do we pray presumptuous prayers? We think we know what is best for us and what we need. But God is not in the business of submitting to us. On the contrary, we must be in the business of submitting to Him.
How did my prayers change that day? I began to pray according to Philippians 4:6. "Father, in Jesus name, I come to you and thank you for your provision. You know our needs, Lord, and You have never failed us. You have always done above and beyond what we could ever hope for. We don't know what that is yet, but we are so grateful that You do."
So what happened on race day? After a few race-day registrations, we tallied all of our entries. At final count, we had 119 runners and walkers. It was an absolutely beautiful morning with much cooler temperatures than the past several days. There was even a breeze that came through that kept us cool. We had a wonderful time meeting new friends and visiting with old friends. And God provided for every need that we had.
As we are encouraged in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."