I hung around after church talking to the woman I had sat next to. She is going through great suffering, so we prayed on the spot, and I want to tell you something of how she prayed. She was seeking the Lord's peace, and said words to this effect: "Lord, I am asking for peace, not as one who begs and pleads but as believing that you are giving it to me, and thanking you already."
It was a perfect prayer. It bundled expectation with request. Sometimes we pray in such a way that we are begging and pleading as if speaking to an unreasonable or reluctant God whom we have to cajole, like the pagan gods, and who may or may not be in the mood. But Jesus himself told us that expectation of an answer must be part of the prayer itself:
"Whatever you ask in prayer you will receive if you have faith" (Matthew 21:22).
"Jesus said to him, '"If you can"! All things are possible for him who believes'" (Mark 9:23).
James says the same thing about the manner in which we should pray:
"But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8).
Believing in an answer is part and parcel of right asking, according to Jesus and James. Praying that is full of doubt is not only boring and exhausting praying, but God says it should not expect an answer. Praying that is already thanking God for the anticipated answer is an experience light years different and full of joy.