Why Doesn’t God Answer All My Prayers? Because Some of Them Are Stupid

  • That his kingdom would take greater hold in our hearts.
  • That his will would be done in me, like it is in heaven.
  • That he would supply our needs for today.
  • That he would forgive us as much as we’ve forgiven others.
  • That he would lead us away from the things that tempt us the most.
  • That he would keep evil away from our heart’s door.
  • That he would be honored and glorified above all.

Those are prayers God will never say “no” to.

Plus, when those prayers are answered, they help us become better pray-ers about other things, too.

Better prayers have nothing to do with smooth words. They’re the ones that change our hearts to become more like Jesus.

Pastors Pray Stupid Prayers, Too

Pastors are not immune to praying stupid prayers. Starting with me. My story in The Grasshopper Myth is evidence of that.

Instead of praying for a bigger, more celebrated ministry, we need to pray…

  • That Jesus would build his church—even if it doesn’t put butts in my church seats (Matthew 16:18).
  • That God would bless every church in our community—not just ours (John 17:22).
  • That the body of Christ would be unified (John 13:35).
  • That we would be better examples by living what we preach (Titus 2:7-8).

The Father Knows Best

We’re not alone in our struggles with stupid prayers.

Even late into his mature life and ministry, the Apostle Paul struggled with this problem. He prayed over and over that God would remove something he called a “thorn in the flesh,” but God said “no.” Why? To keep Paul “from becoming conceited” (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Paul had to learn what we all have to learn. God knows what we need, even when it isn’t what we want. Paul came to realize that God’s way of keeping him humble mattered more than his comfort.

Paul also advised the Christians in Rome on this matter. When “we do not know what we ought to pray,” he advised them to lean on the Holy Spirit. Because, in those situations, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26)

But perhaps the best defense against stupid prayers may have come, not surprisingly, from the only person who never had a stupid thought or uttered a stupid word, let alone offered a stupid prayer.

When Jesus was pleading for his life in the Garden of Gethsemane, he ended with words we would all do well to remember.

“Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Those aren’t just words to tack onto a prayer. They should be our lifestyle.

This article originally appeared here.

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Karl Vaters
Karl Vaters is the author of The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been in pastoral ministry for over 30 years and has been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California for over 20 years. He’s also the founder of NewSmallChurch.com, a blog that encourages, connects and equips innovative Small Church pastors

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