Afraid to Pray
During our Growth Group this week, based on Pastor Derick’s sermon “Unashamed to Pray,” we each gave a name of someone we wanted to pray for and talk about Jesus with. I shared the name of my dear friend, and talked about how I wanted to pray for her sanctification and learn along with her how our knowledge of Jesus should transform our lives.
It’s a great prayer! Yet as I drove home, the name of another person lingered in the back of my mind. Why wasn’t I able to share her name, the person my heart aches for, and talk about what I wanted God to do in her life? I didn’t have the answer to my question, so I decided to try and pray for her. But I had no words, and no prayer came to mind.
Taking my speechlessness before God, I asked Him why I couldn’t find words the words to pray. He answered me quickly: “You’re afraid to hope.” Sitting with His whisper, I began to understand. Prayer is a practice of hope—we pray with the assumption that God can and will change things. For me at least, that is what makes prayer seems dangerous, and makes me afraid. I could be easily disappointed! He might not answer my prayer in the way I wanted! Or worse yet, He might not answer at all (or at least, it may seem that way to me). In the face of my fear, I couldn’t dare to imagine the transformation God longs for in the heart of my friend for fear that He might not do it.
God asks us to take a risk when we pray—to trust Him with our deepest desires and release control over the outcomes to Him. Not asking might seem easier, because we won’t face disappointment, but then we miss out on conversing with God, hearing His voice, and learning to discern His will. When we hesitate to pray, we can remember the ways we know we can trust Him. Remember when Paul prays that God would sanctify the church at Thessalonica, and then writes “He who calls you is faithful; He will do it.” (1 Thess 5:24). Recall when Paul prays for the church at Ephesus, and then reassures them that God “is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20). Scripture boldens us to pray as it tells us that He hears and will act. However, it’s not the only way He assures us.
The cross shows us that we can approach God without fear because He approached us first. He came down in human flesh and humbled Himself, and then gave His life for ours, so that we could live in relationship with Him. How could we not trust a God like that? He has proven His love for us and invited us to know Him, so we can be unafraid to pray, knowing that He hears us and will answer only with good gifts.
Join me in praying for South Shores that we would be a community of believers who dare to hope and boldly pray for bigger things as we are strengthened by God’s word, the cross, and each other.
Rachael Heinsen is a recent graduate of UCI with a degree in English. She loves hiking, reading, and all things chocolate. Rachael feels called to higher education and is excited for all Jesus has for her.