What Can I Expect Here?
The real question is not where we pray, or even our method of prayer, but rather the expectations God and we, His creation, bring into our encounters with one another. God’s desires are clearly stated in scripture. He wants us to approach Him with a humble heart, as in the case of Jesus’ parable of the tax-collector and the Pharisee. We are also to come into the Lord’s presence without pretension, and willing to do His will. This is why Jesus’ model prayer included a petition for grace as well as a declaration that God’s will be done here (Matthew 6:9-13). It is also why Paul wanted his Ephesian readers to know he was praying to the Father concerning their hardships, on “bended knee” (Ephesians 3:14).
Our expectations of God are a little more complex, but at the same time somewhat simpler. In simplest terms, what we can expect from God is that His will be done. This request becomes difficult, however, when we dispute His apparent answer to our prayers, or when His timing throws our lives into chaos. We expect God to give us what we want, and that on our schedule. He has promised neither. He has promised to give us what we ask, but since He also commands us to ask according to His will (1 John 5:14), ultimately our expectation should be God’s desire, not ours. This doesn’t means He will not give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 20:4), but since it is our wish to do His will, we should be pleased when we are in agreement with His perfect wisdom. It is also at this point God can work mightily through us.
What can we expect here? We can expect God to hear us and help us align our life with the story He is writing. We can also expect Him to guide, direct, comfort and forgive us as we stumble down the path He has placed before us. This path is our “here”. His will is our “where.” Prayer is the conversation where God helps us put all of the pieces and places together.