When God answers our mundane prayers: Thank him!

by K.W. Leslie, 17 September

I’ve written before about how we can pray for ordinary stuff. That it’s okay to pray for ordinary stuff. God wants us to cast all our cares on him, 1Pe 5.7 and not worry about all the silly daily things we ordinarily do, and that pagans fret about. Mt 6.25-33 So go ahead and pray for God to help you find your phone. Or to speed up a traffic light. Or to help your kids do well on that spelling quiz. Or for a generally good day.

And y’know, plenty of Christians already do precisely this. We pray all the time for little trivial things. “God, I’m gonna be late!” “God, take care of this.” “God, help her out.” Some of us make these little prayers all day long. Good!

Thing is, God answers these prayers. All the time. Sometimes with no. Frequently yes.

But because they’re mundane requests, because our prayers are so numerous—and kinda automatic and unthought—we kinda take God’s answers for granted. We have a good day… and forget to credit God with it. We assume circumstances made our day good. Less so God.

We find the misplaced phone, and forget to thank God for jogging our memory: “Maybe you should check yesterday’s pants.” We whip down a street full of green lights, and forget to thank God for smoothing out the traffic. We breeze through the line at Starbucks, and forget to thank God for giving the baristas a good day too.

Is this ungrateful of us? Yeah, just a bit. But that’s not actually the problem. The problem is our little prayers for these mundane things weren’t actually prayers of faith. They were prayers of habit. We did ’em without thinking, because it’s just what we do.

A prayer of habit is a heartless prayer. One which expects nothing, but says the prayer because “Christians gotta pray.” One which doesn’t remember to thank God for his answers, because it’s not actually looking for answers, and credits circumstances or ourselves.

Kinda sad, but kinda common.

Break the habit.

If you find you’ve fallen into this habitual, “I pray ’cause Christians pray” mindset, snap out of it. Never pray mindlessly. You’re talking with God! Take him seriously.

Because if we don’t take him seriously, God’s under no obligation to answer these prayers either. He might anyway, ’cause he’s generous and kind like that, and he’s trying to show us prayer is far from a light, meaningless thing. But ordinarily he doesn’t wanna answer empty, faithless prayer: He wants a relationship with his kids, and dead religion (as opposed to living religion) isn’t gonna further our relationship any.

Be mindful of God whenever you invoke him. If you call upon God, expect he’s listening. ’Cause he is. Expect him to respond to you, ’cause if you’re listening, he will. Go ahead and ask for those same mundane things as usual; go ahead and await his answers; don’t forget to thank him, whether his answer is yes or no. Y’may not like the no, but coming from God, it’s still the best answer.

Don’t just thank God mindlessly either—again, ’cause “Christians gotta be thankful.” That’s just more faithlessness. Thank him when, and because, you see God in action. Thanking him should be the byproduct of being mindful of him: If we’re not paying attention, of course we’re not gonna think to thank him. If we’re always paying attention, we can’t help but be thankful. He’s constantly around, and constantly has our back.

The more we take our prayers seriously, the more we watch what God’s up to, the more we’re gonna see him in action. It’s gonna do away with this myth the skeptics insist upon: They claim God never answers prayer; that circumstances play out however they will, and we’re just wishfully reading God into them. You’re gonna see just how often God answers your prayers—and you’re gonna take him for granted way less than you do. And trust him way more.