That teaching began when they were quite small. They would sit on my knee behind the steering wheel as we drove deserted country roads or the longish driveway from the front gate to the carport.
They had their hands on the steering wheel and (mostly) looked out the front window as we travelled. They thought they were driving the car and it was totally in their control.
But, of course, I was driving the car, deciding where we were going and how fast we were travelling. I also decided on how much force I allowed my son to exert on the steering wheel, depending on whether he was trying to direct us where I had previously decided to go or not.
Our prayer life is a bit like this.
God knows where He is going and how fast He wants to get there. And He does allow us, indeed invites us, to put our hands on the steering wheel. How much effect we have on the steering wheel depends on whether we are heading in the same direction He is or not.
So if we want to be effective in prayer, we need to be on the same page God is. We need to know His will regarding the subject of our prayer so we can pray "in Jesus' Name" and be gently placing our hands on His steering wheel.
Praying for something that is not in God's will is as useless as my son trying to pull the steering wheel in a different direction to where I have chosen to go. I will just "out-pull" him with my stronger grip.
So how do we know God's will?
First, we need to know what God has revealed about His intentions in His Word.
Second, we need to spend time (in prayer) asking God what he wants us to pray for before we begin asking for things to be done.
I often answer the question, "How do you get all your prayers answered?" with the one-word instruction, "Cheat!"
Find out what God is planning to do, and pray for it to happen.
A beautiful example of this cheating is demonstrated by Daniel in the Old Testament.
... I was studying the sacred books and thinking about the seventy years that Jerusalem would be in ruins, according to what the LORD had told the prophet Jeremiah. [Daniel 9 : 2]What had Jeremiah prophesied?
This whole land will be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [Jeremiah 25 : 11]and
For Yahweh says, “After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon, I will visit you and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.
[Jeremiah 29 : 10, 11]
With this information about God's plan, Daniel continues :
And I prayed earnestly to the Lord God . . . [ Daniel 9 : 2, 3 ]You can read the whole prayer in the following verses.
A Biblical example of cheating! Knowing God's plan and praying for it to happen.
It gives me great peace to know God's will cannot be overridden by the will of any of his children.
Can you imagine the chaos if God granted every request, especially those prayers that ask for very different (even opposite) outcomes or actions from God in the same circumstance?
We need to gently place our hands on God's Great Steering Wheel if we are to get all our prayers answered, and be co-workers with Christ in the Body of Christ.