1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (Emphasis added, KJV).
It is important to understand that everything we expect must conform to God’s perfect will and character if our expectations are to be realistic in the truest sense of the word. Therefore, it is important to compare those things that others have taught us and those things we believe to be true to the Word of God. It does not matter whose teaching we have heard, the teaching must line up with the Word of God if it is to be genuine. The exhortation is to get into the Bible and scrutinize what we have heard and believe to be true as the Holy Spirit leads us.
Before going further, here is a principle to consider: Before embracing some new teaching, whether it is something we have found or someone else has found, look for the example in the Word. Sometimes people will find a “principle” to live by, but that said principle should have examples found in Scripture. In other words, there should be things that Jesus or the apostles did in relation to it. If Jesus did not do something, why would we? There should be an application seen in the Bible in at least two or three places. Here is an example; on occasion people will start talking to the devil while in prayer with the Father (i.e., while in the middle of speaking to the Father, they say such things as, “Devil you are a liar,” then return speaking with the Father). Their intent may be well meaning, but where in Scripture do we see Jesus or the apostles doing that? There is an appropriate time to talk to demons or the devil himself (like when we are casting them out), but not during the course of our time with the Father. Without belaboring the point or going into a theological discourse about the devil, suffice to say that he gets an excessive amount of attention as it is.
Okay, so what are some unrealistic expectations? One example is asking God to humble someone else (i.e., “Show ‘em where it’s at Lord!). This does not quite get with the program, this is simply praying through anger and un-forgiveness. How is He supposed to honor that kind of prayer? Another one is expecting God to fulfill our lusts when we pray. James 4: 2-3 makes this clear: “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (KJV). We must remember that when we delight ourselves in Him, He free to give us the desires of our hearts (see Psalm 37:4). As we delight ourselves in Him, we will also be seeking His perfect will, which He in turn places in our hearts. There are those times when the Lord will not do those things we think He will, and times He will do things we don’t think He will do. Nonetheless, when He does or does not do something, it will be in keeping with His character and will. If we begin to live by false teaching or a false belief system, in due time our faith may drop out of sight because things will not turn out the way we thought they should have. When things do not seem to go as planned, it is a good time to ask the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5).