Prayer: in Faith or in a Temper Tantrum?

Written by: Tammy Vanella

I recently saw a license plate frame attached to a very ordinary car. The frame boasted, “I saw it. I wanted it. I threw a fit. I got it!” The car was nothing special, but it appeared the owner was proud to have this prized possession.

That license plate holder made me think: sadly, we often approach God in a similar manner when we pray, making our prayers short-sighted. The object of our prayers should focus less on our desires and more on God’s will for us. When we don’t take on this mindset, we become entangled in yearning, our prayers manifesting as mere temper tantrums.

Here’s how it happens:

  • “I saw it.” We see something, creating a spark of desire within us. The object of our desire could be material, relational, physical or even spiritual.
  • “I wanted it.” We begin obsessing, which fuels the longing, similar to stoking a hot ember in a furnace. Before we know it, we are roaring with desire.
  • “I threw a fit for it.” When it doesn’t come soon enough or perhaps not at all, we become impatient, disappointed, angry and hopeless.
  • “I got it.” In rebellion, we push God out of the equation and pursue alternative substitutes for ourselves, often missing the lessons or blessings he has for us.

Does this feel familiar? In our prayers, we often lack faith, stamping our feet and raising our fists at God, accusing him of taking too long to answer or withholding from us all together.

We accuse God of not really loving us in the first place. We behave like persistent toddlers, failing to realize that when prayers aren’t answered, it’s not because God doesn’t love us or care about us. He simply may have something better in mind for us, something of far greater value.

This is when we should ask ourselves the hard question: Am I willing to wait and trust for God’s best or would I rather have what I think is best for me?

God’s love is not just about giving, it is also about protecting. I thank God he has loved me enough to protect me from many things I cried out for in my lack of understanding, my “temper tantrum” prayers. There have also been many times in my life when I settled for average and ordinary rather than trusting God to bless me with remarkable and extraordinary.

Sometimes God does give us what we are praying for. Mark 11:24 says,“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (ESV). This is the spirit of trust and faith in God.

We have to remember that whatever we pray for, we must trust that, no matter the outcome, God always has the best in mind for us.

Sometimes we may not be able to see God’s plan, but Romans 8:26 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Sometimes, we don’t know what we should pray. But true maturity is when we choose to trust God’s best for the outcome no matter what and allow the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather pray in faith than boast in objects of ordinary value.

Share your thoughts, comment below:

What are you longing for today, and how can you pray in faith, rather than pray in a temper tantrum?