How many times have you said some variation of this phrase?
All that's left to do is pray.
Really? Prayer is our last resort? After we've exhausted all of our human efforts, I guess it's time to turn to God and see if He can do anything... It's amazing how arrogant we get when we try to do everything on our own. What if we turned to God first? I think sometimes we're afraid that He won't answer us, so we don't even bother asking. That way we can continue to "trust" Him without ever having to put that trust on the line. Reality check: we have a pretty awesome heavenly Father. Here are two reasons why.
1. He wants to give us good things.
Jesus explains it like this in Matthew 7:7-11: as parents, don't you want to give things to your kids? Don't you want them to be happy? Sure, there are times when kids don't understand why they can't have something, but the heart of a parent is always sacrificial. Students (non-parents) who are reading this, have you ever been in a relationship with someone you truly cared about? You start to put them and their happiness above your own. Maybe you spent $200 on a birthday gift for them, and you were actually excited about it! Jesus says, if we, as imperfect humans, are able to give good gifts, then shouldn't God, who is perfect, be able to give even greater ones?
2. He is able to give us good things.
There's nothing that God can't do. Think about that. All things are within His control. Down to the littlest detail. Sometimes we're afraid to pray for what we actually want because we don't think He can do it. Instead of healing, we pray for comfort and patience. We forget that our God is the One who created everything. He is certainly capable of taking care of us.
I wish I had the confidence of Elijah. Have you heard this story? In 1 Kings 18:20-40, he has a showdown with the prophets of Baal, a false God who many people were worshipping. Here's how it goes down. They each set up an altar with a bull to be sacrificed. Usually, they would start a fire and cook the bull. This time, Elijah proposes that they let their gods be the ones to light the fire. Whichever God/god lights their fire first, wins. The scene that follows is hilarious. The prophets of Baal are making complete fools of themselves with their rituals - running around, screaming, even cutting themselves. Elijah actually starts mocking them, claiming their god must be in the bathroom.
Now, it's Elijah's turn. He orders them to dump buckets of water on the altar. They're trying to get it to catch fire, remember? Fire and water usually don't play well together. Two more times they dump water on the altar, until it is completely soaked. Elijah turns around and prays simply: "Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." At that moment, fire whooshes down from Heaven and consumes the altar, the bull, and all of the water.