Have you ever been tempted to wonder why it seems like other people have such exciting answers to prayer to share, while your prayers somehow don’t seem to make much of a difference? That friend or coworker continues to be uninterested in the Gospel, that relationship seems no closer to being healed, that person still doesn’t respond to you, and it doesn’t seem like God is using you in any significant ways at all. I have had those thoughts many times, but as I was recently praying and thinking through some of these situations where it didn’t seem my prayers had made any impact at all, I began to realize that something indeed had changed! No, the situations were no different, but I had changed! My whole perspective on the circumstances was different, and I didn’t even realize that change was taking place! Instead of changing the circumstances that I was in, God was giving me a peace and contentment and even joy in the midst of those very same circumstances! He was transforming little by little my attitude towards the people I was praying for, too, and replacing my selfish motivation with a more genuine love for them and true desire for their good!
God does often choose to answer our prayers the way we are hoping, and He wants us to bring our requests before Him, however great or small! Nevertheless, the promise of Phil. 4:6-7 is not so much that God will do just what we are asking Him to do when we pray, but it’s about how we ourselves will be affected by prayer – “the peace of God which surpasses every thought will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes God may not choose to calm the storm or settle the conflict or change our friends, but He will give us an inner peace through it and even use our prayers to change our perspective so that we can see the good that He is bringing about through it!
What kind of an impact would it have on my prayer life if I started asking God to change me as I am praying for other people or circumstances? Would my perspective on “unanswered prayer” be different?
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7