Have you ever prayed a bad prayer? I have. As a youngster I often selfishly asked the Lord to help me win when I was in a contest. He didn’t always grant me my request, but neither did He punish me.

The prophet Elijah gives us a striking illustration of God’s way of answering a bad prayer. Elijah had experienced a spiritual high in seeing God send fire from heaven (1 Ki. 18:30-40). Then God had answered his prayer by sending rain after a 3-year drought (vv.41-45).

But when Queen Jezebel sent a messenger to threaten Elijah’s life, his elation was quickly squelched (19:2). Instead of trusting God, Elijah fled into the wilderness. There he prayed a bad prayer. He asked to die (vv.3-4).

What was God’s response? He showed amazing grace. Knowing that His servant needed food and rest, He provided them. Then He gave the prophet a message of encouragement and assigned him new duties to perform (vv.5-18).

We all pray bad prayers sometimes. But even a bad prayer contains some good if it acknowledges God and expresses our dependence on Him. So let’s talk to God no matter what our feelings. If we pray honestly, even a bad prayer can open the door for Him to work in our lives.