I was raised in a pious Roman Catholic family, and we went to church every Sunday. Even at a very young age, we went to big people church, with full length masses that seemed to go and on. But I was a very obedient child, and I never missed one service. And every Sunday, I had one fervent, heartfelt prayer.
“Lord, please make me tall enough to reach the pews when I kneel.”
This was seriously my prayer at that time. Because each and every time we have to kneel, I didn’t have anywhere to place my praying hands. I was too short to reach the ledge of the pew when I was kneeling down.
Full disclosure, I wasn’t a very tall kid. Right now I know I’m the perfect height, but back then, I knew I was a little bit shorter, a little bit cuter, than my other friends.
(Full, full disclosure — I was always the smallest in the classroom. I never got picked for teams in PE. At the end of prep school (the level before you start kindergarten), my uncle was surprised that I was part of the graduating class. He thought that all along that I was just going there to play. Because I looked too small to be going to school already.)
And I really prayed so so hard to Jesus that He would miraculously make me taller so that I can reach that pew ledge.
I’m not going to reveal what age I finally reached that coveted height, but let’s just suffice it to say that I can now happily reach that ledge when I have to kneel down on a pew.
(I have some bonus tips for all you boys and girls right now: eat your vegetables, and do as many afternoon naps as you can. Those two things would have saved me many years of unanswered prayers about my height.)
Now that I know more about God, I should’ve asked for more. I know that God is a God of wisdom, and perfect timing, and answered prayers.
And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
1 John 5:15 NLT
Prayer is powerful! Even the few mumbled words of thanks we say before each meal; even the vague, jumbled thoughts of blessings for the family before we go to sleep. Prayer is very powerful.
And not because it is the means by which our requests get sent to some sort of genie-god, who will only approve and process them if they are submitted appropriately.
It is also not because it is the only way that a sort of judge-god will hear our petitions, and mete out punishments or rewards accordingly.
Prayer is powerful because it is the outward expression of our faith, a vocal confirmation of our belief.
When we pray, the first thing that happens is that we are affirming to ourselves, and to God, that we believe in Him. That’s why when we pray, we start out by saying who it is that we are praying to, and declaring His greatness.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Matthew 6:9-10 NIV
The second thing that happens is that we are acknowledging the extent of His capabilities.
4 He counts the stars
and calls them all by name.
5 How great is our Lord! His power is absolute!
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Psalm 147:4-5 NLT
But it is important to remember that even though we know the extent of His power, it doesn’t mean that our prayers will get answered by the sheer force of our own earthly belief.
Our prayers don’t get answered by how “well” we pray. There is no checklist, no set rules, or number of words to use. There is no timeline or special formula.
Which is not to say that it is a hopeless, fruitless exercise to try and get better at doing it. Far from it. Prayer reinforces our faith every single time we do it. It keeps us close to God, and closer to His divine understanding. It strengthens our spiritual resolve, the personal relationship that we have with Jesus, and the familial bond that we have with other believers.
So never stop praying. God always answers the prayers of His sons and daughters. We do not understand His timing, or His reasons. But we are rest assured that our God will always hear us.
You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.
Job 22:27 NLT