Summary: There are only two motives for prayer: fear and hope. If you pray and live in fear, you will live a lie and deny God, and you will become destructive. But if you pray and live in fear, you will find satisfaction and will become a life-giver.

God answers prayer. Let there be no doubt about that. God

answers prayer. God responds to what His people ask. So

it has often been said that you had better be careful what you

pray for, because you just might get it!

There is something awesome, something even dangerous

about prayer. When we pray, we are in touch with God’s

power. When we pray, we are connecting our wills with the

one who holds all things in the palm of His hand and whose

mind understands it all. And so our prayers had better not

be the idle ramblings of a confused spirit. Our prayers had

better not be the unexamined ravings of a troubled heart.

We could do damage that way. We could cause harm. Be

careful what you pray for; you might get it!

Have you heard the story about the guy who rubbed a genie

lamp, and out came the genie, who announced that she

would grant three wishes? Astounded by the thought of

having anything he wanted, he tested it out and said, “Well, I

wish for a shiny new convertible, with all the gadgets.” And

poof! There it was, big, shiny, red, four-on-the-floor, with

stereo speakers and quadraphonic sound (I have no idea

what that means, but that’s what all the ads say, so it must

be good stuff!) – a new convertible, BMW or Mercedes or

whatever it is that’s going now. I’m not familiar with all those

brands, but let’s just say it was not a sawed-off version of my

Plymouth Horizon. “Wow, he said; it works! I can actually

get what I wish. All right, a second wish. My second wish is

that in the front seat, next to me, there would be a pretty girl,

and that in the back seat there would be a suitcase full of

cash.” And so again, poof! In the front seat of his car, a

lovely young thing, giving him the come-on; and in the back

seat, a huge suitcase with hundred-dollar bills sticking out

here and there. “This is fabulous! This is fantastic! Wow”.

But then the genie reminded him. “That’s two wishes. You

have one more. But only one. Be careful with your

remaining wish.” The guy said, “Right. I do need to be

careful. I need to think about this for a few moments.” And

so he got in the car, started it up, smiled at the lovely lady.

As he raced down the road, so happy, he snapped on the

radio, and began to sing along with what was playing, “Oh, I

wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.”

Be careful what you ask for; you might get it. And the

consequences could be tremendous. Be careful what you

pray for. You are in touch with power. And you just might

get it.

Let me offer this proposition -- that when we pray, we pray

either out of fear or out of hope. There are only two motives

for prayer. Either we pray motivated by fear or we pray

moved by hope. That’s all. Only two motives for prayer, fear

or hope.

When we pray out of fear, we are afraid of what might

happen, we are afraid of what is going on, or we are

insecure. Praying out of fear is perfectly normal sometimes.

Your car is skidding on the ice into the path of a semi, and

instinctively you say, “Lord, help me!”. That’s reasonable.

That’s what your instinct tells you to do. But if you always

pray out of fear; if your very style of life and prayer is riddled

by fear, the consequences are often destructive. Praying out

of fear will lead to the destruction of your own soul or it will

lead to the destruction of others. It is playing with fire.

Praying out of fear is very dangerous. But some of us do it

all the time. We need to be careful what we pray, for if it is

praying out of fear, we might get it, and it will be costly.

But another option is to pray out of hope. When we pray out

of hope, we are confident that God’s will is best, we expect

great things from God, we sense that we are His children

and that He cares for us. Praying out of hope will lead to our

salvation and it will lead to building up others. Praying with

hope is being a good steward of the spiritual goods that have

been given us. Every time I stop by a hospital bed, I look for

hope in my heart, no matter how grave the situation. I know I

must pray out of hope, for if we pray out of hope and not out

of fear, we might get it, and it will be most rewarding.

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