Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

I share a particularly close relationship with one of my nieces. She used to stay at my house almost every weekend when she was very small. I found her sleeping with my dog in the dog basket not once, but several times. Once there was a time when her parents denied her a request. She responded “I’ll just ask my uncle. He’ll get it for me.” Ah, the utter confidence of youth and love.

I am often guilty of going through the motions when I pray. I ask for things without any real expectation of receiving them. Why do I pray then? Well, I am not always aware of my lack of faith. I only become aware of my unbelief when the answer comes and I am surprised by it. I think to myself “Wow! Look at that! God answered!” or “What, already?” I’m not sure how long it will take before I have that complete and utter confidence in the love and concern of my heavenly Father.

What I should do is begin to immediately look around for the answer to my prayer. God knew my need before I even knew about it. He knew I would need this and that before the foundations of the world. So the odds are, the answer was already on the way as I was praying. But because of my unbelief, the dark forces of Satan may be able to delay it a while. Remember when Daniel was praying? The angel that eventually arrived told Daniel that demonic forces had delayed him. Demonic forces gain power and strength in humanity’s sin and willfulness. They have been bound over to darkness – the moral darkness that can be found even, at times, in the life of a Christian. That means that wherever I allow moral or spiritual darkness in my life, I am giving them more maneuvering room. When I pray faithlessly, I am the one delaying the answer to my prayers.

I was praying once with a young, mentally retarded man. He prayed, “God, preacher tells me my hair is too long and I need a haircut. How long was Jesus’ hair?” There was a long period of silence and I began to worry that I would have to try to explain to this young believer that we couldn’t really know what Jesus looked like until we got to heaven. Suddenly he said, “Oh, thanks!” Immediately after the meeting he went to the barber and got his hair trimmed. It was still long by some people’s standards but it didn’t go to his shoulders. To this day I believe that somehow, some way, God gave that simple man an answer of some kind in response to his child-like faith. I only pray that I can achieve the same faith.