Consider Jesus’s words: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

You don’t have to be a five-year-old to ask the logical question, “If God knows what we need before we ask Him, then why ask in the first place?” After all, Psalm 115:3 asserts that “Our God is in heaven. He does as He pleases.”

I admit there are times when I feel prayer is like a cosmic lottery. You place your bet. You may win the jackpot. Then again, you may wind up with lemons. But I picked up a few insights along the way. Let me share three of them based on Exodus 32-34.

There was a time when I was jobless and broke for two arduous years. My savings went down to zero and my self-esteem went down to negative. I never felt so useless and ashamed in my life. You can imagine how earnestly I pleaded with God to restore my broken career.

Then out of the blue, I was summoned to a job interview. With bated breath, I wondered if God was at last granting my request.

But before I went to the prospective employer, I stopped by my church and shared my pain with two pastors. The two gave me some sort of pep talk and prayed over me. What they didn’t know was that, afterwards, I locked myself inside an empty office. There, I broke down and wept. I blubbered, “Please, God, I am so tired. I can’t take another disappointment. Give me this job. I claim it by faith.”

I didn’t get the job.

Can you imagine the seismic shock this had on my prayer life? Didn’t God hear those two pastors? Didn’t He see my hot tears? For quite some time, my spiritual walk was in a blue funk, which I had chronicled in my latest book Broken Faith (OMF Lit, 2022).

It has been over twenty years since that crushing disappointment. I suppose it still hounds me. I kept wrestling with the question: if God is sovereign, then He has decreed that I won’t get this job. So why bother with prayer at all?

I picked up a few insights along the way. Let me share three profound truths based on Exodus 32-34…

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