Living on Purpose: Go ahead and ask – God is listening


Dr. William Holland

By Dr. William Holland

We know that people pray for all types of things and many times I wonder if God takes every request seriously or if He considers some of them unreasonable. For example, I’m sure that at sporting events both sides are praying for victory over the opposing team but I’ve always thought these types of prayers generally fall into the category of the non-spiritual variety. The Bible actually mentions unsuitable attitudes behind our prayers and uses the word, “amiss” which means, flawed, incorrect, harmful, and inappropriate. James 4:3 explains, “Ye ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.” We find other connotations related to this way of thinking such as mistaken, and inaccurate intentions related to wrong and impure motives. So, along with other reasons why our prayers are not answered, we can add this one to the list. We realize its difficult to understand the difference between a legitimate prayer and one that falls into the classification of being selfish, but this does not mean that God is not listening and carefully considering each one. 

An amazing prayer request is found in the tenth chapter of the book of Joshua. Israel is at war with the Amorites and with Joshua leading the way, we are given an account of this true story. In verse 12, it’s recorded that Joshua declared to the Lord and in front of the entire army for the Sun and the Moon to stand still until they could defeat the enemy. God actually granted this request and for an entire day, the Sun and Moon miraculously stood still. Israel eventually won this battle and it’s described as an overwhelming victory in which the enemy was completely destroyed. When I think of modern military leaders standing strong in prayer, I must admit that General George Patton is not on the top of my list. However, it’s recorded in history that Patton also believed in prayer and had faith in the power of God. Most of us have heard of the World War II conflict called, The Battle of the Bulge, and on a cold December in 1944, the American ground forces were struggling because dense clouds were preventing air support. Patton realized the fate of the war was now being determined by the terrible weather. He aggressively took action and ordered this prayer to be distributed to every unit in the Third Army. “Almighty and most merciful God, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these moderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.” Whether you believe this was a miracle or simply a coincidence, the fog and clouds dissipated and allied air power helped defeat the last major German offensive of the war.

Though faith on this level is rare, I recently read a few innocent prayers that young school children had written down and as they are honest, some were also comical. One 8-year-old boy prayed that his math test would be easy and another classmate made his heavenly request for the cafeteria to serve chocolate cake every day. Others had a more mature petition when they asked God to protect every law enforcement, firefighter, and first responder. One 10-year-old girl said, “Dear God, thank you for helping George Washington win the Revolutionary War so that we could become the United States of America and live free” which I thought was a wonderful appreciation for answered prayer.

Nonetheless, it’s beyond the imagination how God listens to everyone all at once, sorting through millions of prayer requests every hour, then deciding yes, or no, or wait till later. This is why He is the Sovereign Almighty whose attributes include being Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. As we continue in our journey and are inspired to believe that mountains can be moved with a small amount of faith, I see nothing wrong with sincerely asking God for a larger amount of confidence. We accept that all prayers may not be answered, but at the same time, if our motives are pure and God is in agreement, we can embrace His promise that nothing is impossible.

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