If a difficult trial gives us a moment of doubt in God, we must, like that man, come humbly and with brokenness before the Lord. We must acknowledge when we believe only in part; then ask for the Lord’s help to again believe in full. The Lord will respond, and help us. Remember, Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). When our faith is weak, He will help to strengthen us!
Faith is a choice we make to believe that God is Who He says He is. Praying in faith means coming to God, believing that God exists – and that He loves us, hears us and answers us, and has only our best in mind. Our faith is not in our faith; our faith is in GOD and His faithfulness!
Another obstacle to effective prayer is a fleshly control.
We may very well discern the heart of God on a matter, and pray to the Lord in a right way. But the answer may be delayed or troubled if we then try to take matters into our own hands and “help” God with the outcome!
Abraham brought much heartache and trouble upon his own household and upon the generations of Israelites to come by trying to fulfill God’s promise in his own way with Hagar (read Genesis 16).
Later in the Book of Genesis, we read about Jacob “the deceiver”. Jacob desired the blessing, and may have asked God for it. But instead of waiting on God’s answer, Jacob took matters into his own hands. His rash and deceptive methods of getting that blessing caused him years of delay and sorrow (Gen 27-33).
We can see another illustration of this truth today. A wife may pray in earnest for her husband’s salvation. But if she tries to force him to change with her own methods, she may well become an obstacle to his repentance.
It is critical to remember that when we ask God for something, we must not try to control the outcome with our own efforts. We must be patient and sensitive to His desires. We must ask, and then trust Him to answer in His perfect time and in His perfect way.
PRAYER AND OBEDIENCE
There are times, however, when we have prayed, and God will direct us to do something which He requires to bring the answer.
There are many instances in the Bible – in both the Old and New Testaments – when there were very specific instructions or directions as to how to receive the Lord’s answer to prayer. One example is when Naaman was required to go and dip himself in the Jordan river seven times to be healed (2Ki 5:10-14). There was nothing special about the river (vs.10,12). But there was something significant about Naaman’s willingness to obey that helped him to recognize the One True God Who alone holds all power (v.15).
God places a high value on obedience. When we pray, our own will must be subject to His. We must be willing to do whatever God asks of us.