Last summer, we made a last minute decision to visit my family in Saskatchewan. For most people, taking a summer trip (even if it involves crossing international borders) is not that big of a deal, but for us it was. Our twin daughters were almost 4 at the time and our son John was almost 2, not to mention that Steph was at the midpoint of her pregnancy with Jeremiah. Needless to say, we felt strongly that God was leading us to make the 2000-mile trip to visit my family.
Forgive me for going into so many details, but you need to have this background in order for this post to make sense. For the better part of a year, Steph and I had wanted to get John a passport but for several reasons, it had been put off. Finally, at the end of May 2014, we sent away for John’s passport and were told it would arrive in 4-6 weeks. Not long after that (around mid-June), we made our decision and booked our flights.
Having booked flights to Saskatchewan without yet having John’s passport, we knew we were taking a bit of a risk. We knew that our mid-July trip was beyond the 4-6 week range that it takes for them to process passports, but there was no guarantee. For 2-3 weeks as we waited for the passport, Steph and I fretted over the situation. We asked ourselves, what do we do if the passport doesn’t come in time? Do we cancel our trip? That didn’t seem right because God had impressed it upon our hearts that we needed to make this trip. Finally, after praying about it and asking God to come through for about the millionth time, it hit me that my faith was lacking. Did I think that if I just prayed enough times, that finally when I got to the magic number of ???, that would be enough and God would come through? I don’t know, but it kind of seemed that way.
Like most everything, the Bible has something to say about this. In Matthew 7:7-8, Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and the one who knocks it will be opened.” Or consider James 1:6: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”
As a pastor, I often encourage our people to pray and to make prayer a way of life. The true Christian is someone who communes frequently with God and has hunger to increasingly know the Savior. But is it possible to be good “prayers” and have our approach all wrong? You bet it is! Like my illustration above, we can find ourselves going frequently to God in prayer, but not praying “the prayer of faith” (James 5:15). Sometimes as Christians, we tend to hope God comes through instead of truly believing and trusting that we have what we have asked for. Let me give you one more passage of Scripture: “And this is the confidence that we have toward him (Christ), that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
When we ask anything according to God’s will, the Apostle John tells us we already have it. It’s as good as done. This is not “name it and claim it” prosperity theology. It is simply what the Bible teaches us. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). I fear that far too much of our praying is not done in faith and this needs to change.
So what about the rest of the story? The passport arrived about 5 weeks after we had sent it off to be processed, and well over a week before our trip. By that time God had already convicted me and the lesson had been learned. But as write this, almost a year later, the faith lessons continue. I praise God that Steph and I have grown so much in the area of faith and trust in Christ, but we still have a long ways to go. Lord increase our faith!