I must admit that there are a number of things on my prayer list that I am getting REALLY tired of lifting up. Major things… as in welfare of family members, financial concerns, health issues, and so on. Things that over and over again, I take to the cross and leave behind… only to somehow find myself saddled with them again (Yes, I know it was my choice to pick them back up again!). Interestingly enough, there have been a few data points over the past couple of months that has caused me to pause regarding how I am praying and for what I am praying.
There are two scriptures that I have always used to guide my prayer life.
- Matthew 18:19-20 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
- Matthew 7:6-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
Pray without ceasing, praying within the will of God, and leveraging prayer partners have always been a given to me, but I must say that days, months and years do take a toll when we are waiting for an answer.
My dear friend Mary had a conversation with me about prayer and the absence of an obvious answer. Her words of wisdom told my heart something that it did not want to hear. I’m not completely certain how she said what she said, but this is what I heard… Sometimes when we pray, we pray with a very explicit expectation in our minds of how we want that prayer to be answered… who should receive justice, how one should be restored, how complete healing must occur, etc. Sometimes we pray so hard for one thing (child to get into certain college or son to find the perfect mate for a wife) that the prayer and outcome sort of become an idol. We become so wrapped up in lifting up our preconceived desired response that we are expecting from God that we completely forget that God isn’t that way! In fact, I’m convinced that God is more about the process than the outcome. He’s more about surrendered hearts than He is about giving me what I think I need. In fact, He’s the kind of Father who waits until you give up, or surrender, your expectant desire and empty yourself of preconceptions so that you are ready for His graceful response.
About a month ago, I was really tied up inside. I was angry about an injustice that had occurred to one of my children. Months earlier I (and others) had prayed and prayed that God’s will would be done concerning an event for my daughter. God had, really quite miraculously, answered our prayers and all was on track for a wonderful experience for her. Then, out of the blue, injustice struck – at the 11th hour, and her deserving experience was derailed. Not in a simple flick of a switch sort of way, but in a horrible deceitful and cunningly deceptive sort of way. Bad character on the part of good adults prevailed and I got mad. Mother Hen was riled! I prayed and prayed that God would sort it out by doing a., b., and c. I wanted justice. I wanted restoration to my daughter’s self-esteem (and truthfully… that of her parents’). Well, I must say that I got nowhere with God until Mary spoke to me. She helped me to realize that my prayer for this situation had turned idolatrous. I was more wrapped up in how I believed God was going to answer my prayers than praying for God to use the situation to grow all of our hearts closer to Him and to trust Him with every detail of the outcome because HE KNOWS BEST. I let go. I completely gave it to God. I settled back firmly in His grip and allowed Him to work through the situation. Is it completely resolved? No. Am I trying to take it into my own hands and dictate a response to Him? Not anymore! Because He Does Know Best and I trust Him to sort it out for the good of each of us in His own time.
‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:7’
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