Should you pray the trial away?

God hears us. (1 John 5:15)

That is a sentence that is breathtaking. The sovereign creator of the universe can hear you when you cry out to Him (Psalm 145:19). Tiny miniscule sinful ants, constantly rebelling against Him and going after idols, are being listened to by the high and lofty Creator of all. Not only does He hear, but when we pray according to His will, he grants us the desires of our heart (1 John 5:14).

This thought should not only overwhelm us but also cause us to think twice about what we pray for. 

At times Christians can be careless with their prayer life. We can forget very easily that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Many times, we forget to pray and remember only when a trial comes our way. 

When that trial arrives, many times we limit ourselves to praying the trial away. But if we look at scripture, we sometimes see Christians pray for something else entirely. 

In Acts 4 we see something truly astonishing. 

Peter and the apostles have just had their lives threatened (Acts 4:21). They are told to stop preaching the Gospel or they will be punished. They are practically told to stop preaching or else they will be killed. They go home and pray. And we get to see how the apostles prayed amid threats on their lives. 

Many Christians in this situation, would probably ask the Lord to take away their trial. “Lord please let us preach without being persecuted”. “Lord please keep us safe from this threat”. “Lord please help us keep our heads!”.

But there is one major problem with threatening Peter’s life. That is that Jesus has already told him that he will be crucified! How silly would it be of Peter to go home and pray the trial away? Jesus promised him that he will die on a cross (John 21:18). Jesus promised him that the trial would not go away. Instead, Peter and the apostles pray for the most sensible thing in this case. 

They pray for boldness (Acts 4:29). 

Jesus already promised them trials. He already promised them that they will be treated like he was treated (John 15:20). He promised hardship on earth and great blessing in heaven (Matt. 5:10-12). So, asking him to change his promise would be a waste of a prayer! Rather they ask for boldness to keep preaching despite the threats. 

Let me ask you a question. Can God in an instant remove any trial you face? Why hasn’t he? Why doesn’t he simply remove trials entirely from a Christian’s life? 

Of course, it isn’t wrong to appeal to our Lord when we suffer to ask Him to remove the suffering. Paul asked the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh three times! (2 Cor. 12:8) Of course, we should ask the Lord to help us in our grief or our pain, but for every prayer like this that we pray, even more we must ask for faith to withstand the trial if He chooses to keep us in it. 

Trials are as certain in life as taxes, so we must learn to pray the way James teaches in the first verses of his great letter. Rejoice in trials and pray for the wisdom to go through them (James 1:5). What we need most when we face trials is that God uses that trial to accomplish all He wants in our hearts. That this trial would be used for His glory and for our good. That it would produce steadfastness, perseverance, and maturity (James 1:3-4). 

The disciples knew they would suffer. They didn’t enjoy the suffering, but they did rejoice in it. They felt pain in being whipped, but they felt joy in following in their Lord’s steps (Acts 5:41). We must never forget that the Sovereign Lord of the universe who can create the world in six literal days, can remove any person or situation that is causing pain in an instant, but if he doesn’t it is because he will use that pain to sanctify us and others around us. 

I remember when I found out my grandma had leukemia. My prayer life was very immature. So, I simply prayed that God would remove it.

I visited my grandma very soon after I found out. When I arrived, this incredible lady was working harder than ever. The moment I walked through the door she hugged me quickly and informed me that her world-famous lasagna was in the oven and almost ready. She right away went back to peeling apples for her equally famous apple pie. She was taking a break from writing her “last book” on what it means to be a servant of Christ. She was also about to be visited by her hospice nurse who wasn’t a believer whom she looked forward to evangelizing. They had to put in a second phone line in the house for all the women around Italy who would call and leave messages when they would find out that their mentor and person who led them to the Lord was dying. The church she served at for the previous 50 years hadn’t been told the news yet.

Let’s just say that I realized that I wasn’t praying very well for her. Suddenly my eyes were opened to a sea of prayer requests I hadn’t thought of before in my immaturity. 

It’s easy to pray the trial away. It’s hard to ask the Lord to accomplish what He would like through it. And though, the former is a God glorifying prayer that we can and should pray to the great physician who loves us and cares for our most basic needs (Matt. 10:29), the latter brings Him great glory as well and helps prepare us for the day we see Him face to face where instantly trials will be a thing of the past. 

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