Praying With Expectation
morning, O Lord, you hear my voice.
morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in
expectation. (Psalm 5.3 NIV)
pray, pray with expectation. That’s what David, the psalm writer,
did. He had a need, he had a prayer, and he had an expectation. The NKJV
says it this way: “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the
morning I will direct it to You. And I will look up.”
When need arose in his life, David laid out his requests in prayer,
and looked to the Lord in expectation. This was not the outward directing of
his physical eyes, but the inward disposition of his heart—to be ready for
the readiness of God.
Centuries later, the Lord Jesus, who is called Son of David,
epitomized this disposition of the heart in His own life and ministry. He
continually looked to the Father in everything He did. Whenever He prayed,
He always expected to receive the answer.
What is more, He taught His disciples to do the same.
The expectation of Jesus
Whatever things you ask when you pray,
believe that you receive them, and you will have them. (Mark 11.24; The NIV
says, “believe that you have received them”)
Jesus’ teaching is clear: When you pray, expecting that you have
received, you will have whatever you ask. In another place He said:
Ask, and it will be given you; seek,
and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who
asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be
opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his sons asks for bread, will
give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If
you then, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how
much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who
ask Him! (Matthew 7.7-11)
When you ask, expect to receive. When you seek, expect to find. When
you knock, expect the door to be opened. The reason for this is that, if we
know the Lord Jesus Christ, we now have God as our heavenly Father, and He
is a giver of good gifts. He won’t give us something bad and try to make
us think it is something good. God is a good Father, and good fathers don’t
do that. God will give what we ask, so ask with expectation.
This kind of expectation arises out of a proper orientation of the
heart, focusing ourselves on the Lord. Jesus said,
If you abide in Me, and My words abide
in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John
You did not choose Me, but I chose you
and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit
should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever
you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked
nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
You see, this is all about Jesus—abiding in Him, being
chosen and appointed by Him, asking the Father in His name. If
it were all about us, our prospects would be limited and doubtful, and our
heart would accuse us: “You’re not worthy.” But because it is all
about Jesus, we can expect to walk in His joy, experience His fruitfulness,
and have our prayers answered just as His were answered—because He
James, the brother of Jesus, also taught about expectancy in prayer.
When we look at his epistle we can see four types or levels of expectation:
no expectation, wrong expectation, double-minded expectation, and
with no expectation
Where do wars and fights come from
among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in you
members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain.
You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. (James 4.1,2)
Certainly, this reveals a lack of expectation. Many Christians do not
have because they do not ask, and they do not ask because they do not have
an expectation of receiving. So they go looking for their answers in all the
We need to pray with expectation, or else there is no point in
praying at all. There are many people who pray without having any
expectation of receiving. So they receive exactly what they expect—nothing!
Then they shrug their shoulders and say, “Well, you never know what God is
going to do.” Prayer becomes less and less of a concern in their lives,
not because they tried it and found it lacking, but because they never really
tried it in the first place. The problem is that they either do not know, or
else do not believe what God has said in His Word, for He has said many
things about what He is going to do. This means that we can know what
God is going to do—He is going to keep His Word! So find out what God’s
Word has to say, then pray with the expectation that He is going to do it.
Praying with wrong expectation
James said, “You ask and do
not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures”
(James 4.3). Some Christians, even when they do ask, still do not receive
because they ask with the wrong motivation. Their expectation is twisted
because they have made it all about themselves instead of about Jesus.
Jesus taught us to ask in His name, but many Christians use “in
Jesus’ name” as nothing more than a tagline at the end of their prayers,
as if it were some sort of magic phrase. Praying in Jesus’ name is not
about magic, its about authority, the authority we have in Jesus. Jesus gave
us this authority so we could see His purpose fulfilled and His work done on
the earth, as it is in heaven. To ask in Jesus’ name is to ask as He
would ask. When we do, we can expect to receive the answer to our prayers,
just as Jesus received the answer to His.
with double-minded expectation
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask
of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be
given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts
is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that
man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a
double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1.5-8)
This is a prayer of double-minded expectation because it is offered
by a double-minded man. The double-minded man is confused in his
expectations. He asks with the expectation that he will receive—but he
also asks with doubt, the
expectation that he will be denied. No wonder he is unstable in all his
ways! His prayer is so confused and self-contradictory, how could God ever
answer it? It makes no sense.
What the double-minded man really needs to do is press into the
stability of God by getting into the Word of God, where faith comes and
doubt leaves. Then his expectation will become strong and focused, and he
will be confident in his prayer.
with single-minded expectation
Finally, James talked about
praying with single-minded expectation—the prayer of faith.
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call
for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with
oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and
the Lord will raise him up. (James 5.14,15)
The prayer of faith is a prayer of expectation, single-minded and
focused on God. It is based on the promise of God and therefore looks for
that promise to be fulfilled. In this instance, the promise is for healing,
so we can be confident in God when we pray for healing. But God has promised
us many other things for which we can confidently pray. The promise of God
is whatever He says He will do. In other words, it is the will of God.
Now, the will of God is not some vague thing, obscure and unknowable.
It is clear and knowable, and is revealed to us in the Word of God. The
Bible says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”
(Romans 10.17). When we hear the Word of God, we begin to discover the will
of God. As we do, faith starts to show up. When we exercise that faith and
start taking God at His Word, our expectation grows strong, so we can know
that we will have whatever we ask in prayer.
Developing your expectation in
Here are five things you can do which will help you
develop your expectation when you pray, so you can see your prayers
- Spend time in the Word of God. Abide in it and let it abide in you.
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Along with faith
- Remember that God is a good Father who gives good things to those who
ask. He wants to fill you with His joy and fruitfulness.
- Get to know Jesus more and more, then you will be able to pray more
powerfully in His name, asking according to His purposes and desires,
which are nothing but good for you.
- Give thanks to God when you pray. Jesus said to believe you have
received whatever you ask for in prayer. Since you receive it, go ahead
and give thanks for it.
- Do not waver between faith and doubt. The more you press into God and
His Word, the more your doubts will flee and your faith will grow. Then
with confidence, you can pray and fully expect to receive what you are
© 2004 Jeff Doles
All rights reserved.
Jeff Doles is the author of Praying With Fire: Learning to Pray With Apostolic Power and Healing Scriptures and Prayers. He and his wife Suzanne are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries: preaching, teaching, worship, healing and revival ministry—to help you take the next step of faith in your walk with the Lord, to experience the presence and power of God in your life. For more faith-building articles, or more information about this ministry, visit their website at www.walkingbarefoot.com.
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