I know it comes as no shock that I have issues. One of the issues I’ve always had is with prayer. We are taught in the Bible to ask for things specifically that we want and need and to do so boldly. We are also taught to seek after God’s will. So how does that work out in a prayer life that is vibrant? How do I seek his will and still ask for things I want and need? The two things don’t seem to jive well in a way that I can pursue with any passion. That confusion led to years of really mediocre prayer.
“God, I’d like this to happen, but you know, whatever you want.”
Not very bold is it? Not very filled with worship either. That prayer wouldn’t move me, much less the infinitely glorious God of the universe.
After a lot of struggling, I’ve settled on “You are enough, and…” I think the will of God is the overarching theme here. The closer I get to him, the closer my will lines up with his. So I start my prayers by grounding myself in two facets of how he operates.
One, everything is from him, good and bad. I think Psalm 33:10-11, Proverbs 21:1, Lamentations 3:37-38 and Job 1:21 are just a few of many examples the Bible gives of this fact. So when things are going right, it is God. When things are going badly, it is God. I ground myself in the fact that it is all part of his plan.
Two, all the things he does are for my good. Romans 8:28. This is the verse everyone knows. But I think without also having the foundation that he does everything it doesn’t have quite the same effect. These two ideas together combine to show how God is not only working all things out for my good, he is the cause of all those things. He is working out his perfect plan for his glory and my happiness in him.
So with those as my foundation I begin to claim those facts over my life. At this point it usually turns into worship. I begin to worship how mighty he is and love seeing his hand in everything. This is funny for me because I’ve traditionally struggled a lot with worship. I think grounding myself in who he is before anything else, allows me to worship.
You are enough. I say it over and over, not so that he knows, after all he knows what is really in my heart. No, I say it over and over so I will have it planted deep in my heart where it cannot be moved. You are enough. You are enough.
And with that complete foundation laid, I am comfortable asking for the things I want and need. I am able to ask passionately and boldly, precisely because I have spent time basking simply in who he is. At that point I don’t feel like I’m just there to ask for something. Sometimes in worshiping God, he reveals that the desires I’m about to ask for aren’t from his will and I don’t ask. Sometimes I get a confirmation they are and so I ask even more fervently. And sometimes I hear nothing about them, so I ask boldly and let him do what he will with it.
Some things I tell him I am going to lay hold of and I will not stop praying for until he clearly shuts it down. We’ve had problems with a litter of kittens for Rebecca’s business. They seem to be in a hopeless situation, health-wise, which puts us in a tighter situation, money-wise. I praise God that he controls every molecule in their bodies and guides them to life or death. And I let him know I will not stop praying until they are all healed or are all dead. He is sovereign over their lives and I will boldly claim what I want to happen unless I know it is not his will.
What is the effect of this? Do I always get what I want? No. We are down to one kitten in this litter and it may not last much longer. But I am boldly, expectantly and unstoppably pleading for its healing until the moment it dies or is healed. And it may still die.
But then, all my prayers are really more about my ongoing relationship with our great King than they were ever about a kitten or money. So the outcome doesn’t matter so much as the journey. And that journey will hopefully glorify God. I don’t have everything figured out about prayer, but for me, when it became more about worshiping him and less about a list of my needs, it unlocked something inside me that allows boldness.
You are enough, and…