Environment and emotions sometimes shape our prayers as much as a desire to please God. At a gathering of charged-up believers, our prayers may resound with joy and assurance of victory. When a child dies or another interview fails to land a job after months of unemployment, bitterness and anger may creep into our prayers. At times, like the father of a boy in Luke 9 who wished Jesus would heal his son, we can only pray, “We believe. Forgive our unbelief.” Anxiety over failing loved ones, fear that we will not meet a “critical” deadline at work, or shock over a loved one’s sudden stroke also jolt the content and mood of our prayers. As I have reviewed biblical prayers in recent years, I learned that this impact of context on prayer did not begin with us. Heroes of faith like David, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Paul struggled as do we to choose a direction for ministry, to live righteously, and to maintain courage when others fell away.
Lord, give us strength to move forward when doubts threaten to overcome. Heal our hurts; help us to see beyond our selfish desires to discover your will for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.