When the near impossible happens, people think, “it must be God”.
After all, “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
So, with one second to go on the clock, the only hope Alabama had to win the Iron Bowl was a “hail Mary”, or, so said the CBS announcer.
Then the near impossible happened. Auburn’s Chris Davis returned the failed field goal attempt for a touchdown and the win over long-time rival Alabama.
The crowd was going crazy when the religiously minded announcer once again piped in with God’s play by play.
Nobody knew that Auburn was praying, too! He had only told us that Alabama was “throwing up” a Catholic Hail Mary.
Neither did the announcer explain why God answered Auburn’s prayer, but not Alabama’s. Don’t think too hard, it was a football miracle and cannot be explained!
Prayer as God’s Lottery
For many people prayer is like God’s lottery. It is not something you should depend on for consistent success, but if your chances are slim to none, then it won’t hurt to buy a ticket.
Of course, you can also try throwing a penny in a well, rubbing a rabbit’s foot, or wishing upon a star, just to increase your chances from zilch to zero.
(Warning to the superstitious: This is said tongue-in-cheek, and none of these things are sound practices.)
If the only reason you pray is to get something from God, then your perspective on prayer needs to change.
Most of our prayers should be in thanksgiving, to praise, and for peace. When we do make our requests known to God, it should produce peace by our trust that God’s will be done as he has revealed in scripture (Phil 4:6-7).
If prayer produces anxiety because you think your well-being depends on it being answered exactly as you asked, then you are trusting in the wrong thing.
The only reason many people pray is when the desired outcome seems impossible. If this is the only use you see for prayer, then you are trusting in the wrong thing.
False Hopes in Uncertain Things
It is easy to start depending on the wrong thing.
When that thing disappears or crumbles or does not materialize, then all our hope is lost. Without hope and in despair people turned to God’s lottery, begging God to give back what was lost, so our confidence (in what was lost) can be renewed.
This is no different than praying for a last second miracle, because your whole season comes down to one second and a field goal. What they had worked so hard for, and put their blood, sweat, and tears into was about to be taken away.
This is trusting the wrong thing to help them sleep better. Paul says trusting in uncertain things is a trap, because you will be disappointed (1 Tim 6:9).
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” – 1 Tim 6:17
If prayer is your wishbone, you are trusting in something other than the living God.
Our Trust in the Lord
Our confidence should not be in our flesh, possessions, health, wealth, or field goal kickers. All these things are uncertain.
Our confidence is in the living God, in Christ, and what he gives us cannot be taken away, nor will it cause us to be ashamed (Rom 5:5).
“I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” – 2 Tim 1:12
When you find yourself praying for the impossible, ask yourself what you are trusting in. If you are trusting in the Lord, and not uncertain things, you will have peace.
When we pray it should be with thanksgiving and trust towards God for what he has done and will do, and not in the hope that he will make the impossible possible whenever we ask.