‘Search me, O God, and know my heart.’ Psalm 139:23 NKJV
Here are two mistakes we make when it comes to praying. (1) We focus on our failures. Therefore we pray without faith and confidence (see 1 John 3:21–22). (2) We fail to examine our motives. The psalmist wrote, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart … see if there is any wicked way in me.’ (Psalm 139:23–24 NKJV) There are prayers God won’t answer for our own good—or at least not right now. Pastor Jerry Sittser writes: ‘Your cause may be right, but you may still be wrong: manifesting pride, gloating in victory, punishing wrongdoers with excessive severity … The great hazard for people on a crusade is … they become blind to their own faults. They fight for civil rights but treat janitors like second class citizens. They uphold standards of Biblical sexuality but show little grace toward their spouse. Unanswered prayer is God’s gift … it protects us from ourselves. If all our prayers were answered we’d abuse the power … use prayer to change the world to our liking, and it would become hell on earth. Like spoiled children with too many toys and too much money, we’d grab for more. We’d pray for victory at the expense of others … intoxicated by power we’d hurt people and exalt ourselves. Isaiah said, “The Lord longs to be gracious to you … therefore He waits.” (Isaiah 30:18NAS) Unanswered prayer protects…breaks…deepens and transforms. Past unanswered prayers which left us hurt and disillusioned, act like a refiner’s fire to prepare us for future answers.’ Bottom line: pray with the right motives!