on holy expectations

This post was first shared as issue 13 of These Sacred Words

I have a confession. My expectations towards and about God can be incredibly out of whack. 

Sometimes, if I’m honest, I find myself hesitating to expect good things from God. Sometimes, it almost seems easier to expect hard things from him. 

I see this play out in my prayers, as I hesitantly say “Lord, if it is your will” and “not what I want but what you want, God.”

Now please hear me. These words can reflect a great heart posture. It is good and right to pray according to the Lord’s will, we must always do this. But sometimes I realize that I am praying these words in an attempt to protect my heart from disappointment.

There I said it. Please don’t judge me too harshly.

But it’s true. I find that I couch my prayers with seeming open-handedness, when in fact I am just scared to believe for great things from God.

Does anyone else feel this tension? If so, please tell me how you’ve reconciled this in your own heart and prayers. I’m still trying to find what the balance looks like between praying open-handedly and yet still hoping and asking boldly.

I think what it comes down to is this question that I have for myself (and for you):

Do we have the faith to pray boldly, knowing that even if God says ‘no’ or has something different for us that he will still be good and faithful to provide for and sustain us?

Because here’s the thing. Our hope ultimately IS secure. We can pray boldly and expectantly because we can be fully confident that at the return of Christ all things will be made right. We are free to hope freely because we know that our hope is not in this life. We are able to expect good things from God always because one day we will be free of the brokenness of the world and of our own flesh. 

If we are looking ultimately to our future in Christ – and not to things on this earth – we will not be broken by our unmet expectations. Rather we will be able to take whatever God gives (whether it’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to our prayer), thank him, and say, “this is good.”

May you hope and pray boldly, knowing that God is good. When you pray “Lord, not my will but yours,” may you not say these words to protect yourself from disappointment, but instead to open-handedly hold your prayers and hopes out to God. As you hope in God’s eternal promise, may everything else in this world seem less sufficient in light of the coming redemption of all things.

3 thoughts on “on holy expectations

  1. brother craig says:

    Blessed words, thank you for sharing. For many years I didn’t even pray for my own healing because I didn’t want my already shaken faith to weaken further if my prayer wasn’t answered. Ultimately, my faith is not in God’s answers to my prayers, but rather in the finished work of Christ and all that it reveals of the character of our God. So I guess in my case my hesitation to pray was perhaps rooted in my doubts about God’s love for me. Doubts provoked by looking at my circumstances, but doubts resolved by looking upon Christ, crucified for me.

    • laurenbowerman says:

      Goodness, your words are painfully convicting because I find myself in the place you described so often, scared that my unanswered prayers will shake or weaken my faith. I continually need to be reminded of what you said, that “my faith is not in God’s answers to my prayers, but rather in the finished work of Christ and all that it reveals about the character of our God.” It is so true! Thank you so much for sharing this.

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