What I have learned about prayer

Have you ever prayed and felt God was directing you a certain way? I have! In May 2023, I graduated from seminary and found a number of opportunities presenting themselves to me. I had an opportunity to travel on mission, to help with Bible literacy through storytelling, and to write about hope in Christ. My family and I prayed and knew God was directing us this way. He provided the funds for me to travel, and it was only a matter of time before I could step into the other roles, as well.

However, as days, weeks, and months passed, those doors started to close, one after another. I could not travel and the Bible literacy and writing opportunities were suddenly gone. I felt discouraged, disappointed, and hopeless. I blamed myself for not trying hard enough. I felt stuck as I watched others move on with their plans. It was a difficult season.  

As I look back, though my circumstances did not change, I have changed. The Lord taught me lessons about prayer I had not learned before:

Prayer teaches discernment.

Waiting can leave us vulnerable and susceptible to deception. The enemy, who is a false shepherd, is always looking to mislead us. It is only when we stay focused on Christ in prayer that we discern His voice and follow Him. Christ said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:3).

Prayer renews our confidence that God exists.

When we pray, we are reminded we are praying to a living God. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The God who created the universe and powerfully holds all things together by His Word not only exists, but He also rewards us for our persistence in prayer.

A prayer of faith begins with hearing God.

Paul said in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” As we pray, we learn to cultivate the discipline of saying less and tuning our ears to hear God speak to us through His Word in the Bible. We learn to pray with our Bibles open. We remember that God loves us more than we love ourselves. He knows us more than we can ever know ourselves. And He always wants to give us His very best.

God always answers our prayers.

As we align ourselves to God’s will, we see our circumstances and prayers through His lens. God’s will is a done deal! While I did not go on mission that summer, I prayed for those who went. God answered, and more than 1,200 high school students came to Christ. Opportunities to teach Bible literacy to my family, church, friends, and strangers, were plenty—I just needed to see and accept them. God is using my writing, including what you’re reading, to share the message of hope. God always answers our prayers, and He shows us how if we are willing to see with His eyes. 

Chao Tsuma
Southern Baptist Texan
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