And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you."
In Luke we are told that if we had faith like a mustard seed, (FAITH = the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen) mulberry trees would be uprooted and planted in the sea at our command. Yet in our daily walks we have difficulty when we ask and pray of God. We ask for health for the neighbor who fell and broke her hip, we ask for finances for the family at church who is on the verge of foreclosure, we ask for the guy at work to be less irritating, but do we mean it? Do we ask it and hope as someone hopes for the jackpot. Or do we ask KNOWING that Sally's hip WILL heal, and the Jones' WILL keep their home, and that you WILL have more patience at work.
It has become obvious to me that we are to faithfully pray with expectations. Now this doesn't mean that God will always answer your prayers in the manner that you anticipate, nor does it mean we get to ask for whatever we want. God is gracious and merciful to us to do 1) what is for our good and 2) what is for His glory. That sometimes means that we may petition to Him for the Jones', but they still lose their house. God may be sending them through trials to increase their faith. And we may petition Him for a new car, but it may not be within His will.
Also, is this the extent of our prayers... health, wealth, and prosperity? All the above requests are legitimate concerns and topics of prayer to our loving and gracious God, but when the only thing we pray for is the temporary aspects of this life, we fall short of the communion that should come forth from this aspect of worship. Do we pray for things that have eternal impact such as the souls of family/friends/co-workers; our attitudes and how we need to utilize the fruit of the Spirit; or what about our relationship with God himself?
This idea of eternal impact brings up another important issue in prayer: motives. One person may ask for patience, and another may ask for a boat with a cabin on the lake. Which prayer is a better prayer? Answer: NOT FOR ME TO DECIDE. The individual asking for patience may just want to appear more spiritual around believers, while the individual asking for the boat/cabin/lake will use it as a ministry location for the church. (Extreme, but you understand my point.)
Therefore, my challenge is as follows: faithfully pray with pure motives and with an expectation that God will grant your petition, especially when it comes to items with eternal impact.