Sitting around the table with the other women on the prayer team, I found myself struggling to join in the celebration. A prayer had been answered and everyone was excited and joyful — except me. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased and thankful but at the same time I felt deflated. It reminded me that my own prayer had not yet been answered as hoped.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. You see progress in the prayers of those around you, but your own request goes unanswered.
We may not even be aware of our reaction, but comparing how God is answering our prayer to that of someone else’s prayer can lead to our minds running away with all sorts of unhelpful thoughts and questions. “Am I doing something wrong?” “Is God displeased with me?” “Maybe I haven’t prayed enough?” “I just don’t deserve my prayer to be answered as much as she does.” “She’s a much better Christian than me, I’m just not good enough.” Then, and this can sound like a childish reaction but it is a real response, “it doesn’t seem fair.”
Comparison is a natural and very human response. It can be constructive but it can also be destructive.
Comparison is helpful when we see if one prayer is answered, then it is possible for our prayer to be answered too.
Or comparison can be destructive when we think we fall short, we’re unworthy, or our prayers are less than. Then our responses become more about us than about God who loves us and cares intimately about our lives.
Our response to the answers to our prayers, whether they are yes, no, or wait, should be to focus on God and his graciousness shown to us.
Jesus told a parable about a manager of a vineyard who hired workers at the beginning of the day and then throughout the day until the very end of the day. When it came to paying the workers, the manager gave the same wages to the workers who had toiled all day as to those who had worked only an hour. Understandably, those who labored from early morning grumbled that the payment was not fair. We can sympathize with them. It does seem unfair.
As one scholar says: when we focus on the fairness in this parable we are appealing to God for justice rather than grace. If we focus on what we deserve from God, then we know that really we deserve nothing. Grace is always what God shows us. It is underserved and sometimes not understandable.
We do not earn the answers to our prayers, nor do we deserve them. The goodness shown us is God’s grace. God does not withhold his kindness from one person in favor of another. God is generous to all of us.
And it’s not just those who believe in him who receive his grace. God showers, literally, his good provisions of nature on all humanity, even those who oppose him: He is kind to all by bringing the sunrise to warm and rainfall to refresh whether a person does what is good or evil.
We can be reassured we are recipients of God’s grace whether our prayers are answered or not. When Paul pleaded with God yet did not have his prayer answered, God reminded Paul: My grace is sufficient for you.
God’s grace not only saves us, it sustains us.
Do you need to remember today that God’s grace is enough for you?
Prayer: Lord, help me remember that the grace you show me is sufficient for all my needs today. Lord, show me the abundance of your grace so that it will sustain me today and tomorrow regardless of the answer you give to my prayers. In Jesus’ name. Amen
You might also like 10 Ways to Embrace Grace – This one page download of scripture prayers. Is available in the resource library.