When Our Prayers Closely Resemble a Ding Dong Ditch Prank
Imagine for a moment that you are out at your favorite restaurant. Your stomach growls with hunger, your eyes take in all of the possibilities your meal could hold. Will you order an appetizer? What sort of beverage appeals to you at the moment? Will that entree be your usual or will you venture out into the realm of the unknown and take a risk on a new dish? The waitress comes to take your order and you share your requests as your mouth begins to water, in expectation of what is to come.
No sooner does the waitress walk away to share your order with the cook do you stand up from your chair. You put on your coat, grab your belongings, and walk out the door. You never actually taste the delicious meal. You never even smelled the amazing and expertly made appetizer. Your eyes never behold the colorful beauty of the salad. The salad, the appetizer, the meal, and even the beverages go completely untouched, unsampled, and unenjoyed.
How does this story leave you? Feeling a bit confused? Why would anyone get up and walk away from a perfectly delectable meal? Why would they place their order and not even sample it?
Is this not like a lot of our prayers?
Let me explain further. But first, let us check out 1 Kings 18:20-40.
This is a story of an incredible showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. The people had been wavering between two different opinions. Which god is real? Is it Baal or is it God? Elijah proposed a simple experiment: They would each sacrifice a bull and lay it on wood. Each would call out to their god, whichever god answers with fire is God.
The prophets of Baal first began this experiment. They prepared their bull, laid it on the fire, and called out to their god. Nothing happened. They cried out from morning until past midday and nothing happened.
Elijah's turn came and he repaired the altar that had been destroyed. He built the altar, put the wood in order, and sacrificed the bull. He placed it all on the altar and doused it all with water. He calls out to God and God answers. The fire of the Lord came, consumed the offering, the wood, the stones, the dust, and all of the water.
This story is not unlike the story I mentioned above.
We go to the restaurant and place our orders with the intention of eating it. Elijah rebuilt the altar and prepared the sacrifice because he knew that God would answer. When we pray, do we expect that God will do something about our prayer? Do we expect an answer?
Does our prayer life better resemble a game of ding dong ditch? Do we drop our prayers at His feet and walk away, hardly even remembering what we prayed for? Do we ever hang back and watch? At the restaurant, we might anxiously watch the waitress praying that it is our meal she carries. Elijah prepared the sacrifice and prayed, watching for God's response.
The key word there is to watch. When we watch the waitress and when Elijah watched the altar there is a brief waiting period where we watch for something to happen. We watch with expectation. When we lay our prayers out before the Lord, do we wait with the expectation that He will give us an answer? Do we watch with expectation to see what He will do with our prayers?
Maybe you do not wait with expectation. Maybe you pray and then ding dong ditch the Lord.
Let us look at some practical ways we can wait and watch with expectation.
We can keep a prayer journal. We can keep an account of our prayers, the dates, and the ways that God answered those prayers. So many times we pray these beautiful and heartfelt prayers, but we forget about it moments later. Keeping an account of what we have prayed for and how God answered our prayers will increase our faith and trust. Be sure to keep this account and check back frequently and regularly.
Consider your last need that you prayed to God for. How did God answer that prayer? Examine all the tiny elements that God orchestrated and brought together for the conclusion and answer to your prayer. Have you thanked God for those elements? Have you thanked God for His masterful ways of orchestrating these elements for your benefit? Have you thanked God for answering that prayer?
Thank the Lord for His wonderful provision and care. Thank Him for answering your prayer, even if the answer is no. Trust that God will work out all the details according to His plan. Thank Him for His intimate knowledge and His comforting presence throughout your situation.
When you lay your requests at the feet of the Lord, will you be like Elijah or will you be the customer who leaves the table long before the food arrives? Will you expect God to answer or will you choose to pray ding dong ditch prayers?