Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” [Mark 11:22-24 (NLT)]
Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. [English nursery rhyme]
When I was a child, I’d wish on the first star of the night, birthday candles, the turkey’s wishbone, or by tossing a coin in a fountain. Wishing on stars, candles, wishbones and fountains is just childish hope. When we’re adults, instead of wishing for ponies or puppies, we hope for safe travels, good fortune, excellent results, and happy marriages. Faith, however, is what we need when we pray. Faith is knowing that even if the travel doesn’t go smoothly, the check never arrives, the results are bad or the marriage is troubled, even then, we’ll be fine.
While we can wish (or hope) for whatever our hearts desire, prayer doesn’t work that way. We need to pray the right prayer—the one that is in line with God’s will. Praying the right prayer means we don’t pray for a specific solution or result. We can’t demand what we want; rather we need to ask Him what He wants for us. Personally, I would prefer just telling God what it is I desire, but that would be no different (and no more effective) than wishing on a star. Too often, we ask God to make other people take some action when we are the ones who need to change. While we might be able to see the problem, God is the only one who knows the correct resolution to it.
Faith in the power of prayer isn’t that easy, especially if we’ve been praying the wrong prayers for most of our lives. If we pray the right prayers and believe in their power, they will be heard and answered. God guarantees it. His guarantee, however, is not that we’ll always like His answer—it’s that His answer will always be the right one!
Prayer is more than a wish turned heavenward…it is the voice of faith turned Godward. [Billy Graham from “Unto the Hills”]