Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Prayer--Part II

     Prayer works! 
     Which is why I do it so often, not that my prayers always get answered just the way I hope or imagine.
     But virtually always they do get answered, one way or another. (Yes! No! Not now...maybe later. You're not ready, yet.) These answers are never audible, but often manifest themselves by doors opening and closing, silent prompts, and/or confirmations.
     Often, my prayers get answered with a seeming question such as, “What are your motives?” Or “Is this God's best for you?” For God our Savior is sovereign, whom we must obey to live life at its fullest, not a genie in a bottle who does our bidding on command. I find it all too easy to get caught up with asking, asking, asking for what I want, and often forget to bother asking what God wants of me.
     I tend to want self-centered, temporal things, too: health, security, happiness, prosperity, success, improved relationships—nothing wrong with these, but all based on my own selfish wants and desires and not God's, for God, possessed of all-knowing wisdom, perfect in every way, eternal and with everyone's best interests at heart, and imbued with perfect meaning, purpose, fulfillment, peace, contentment, patience, and love has ways that are far beyond my meager comprehension and understanding (thank God for that!)
     And when I do get what I want, I'm often not very happy long-term, either, because whatever I've gotten is essentially temporal—something that comes and goes. Life itself is temporal as no one lives forever, so no one can be happy forever (except perhaps in Heaven).
     Whereas God always gives us what we need: air, water, food, clothing, and shelter, plus more: abundant life that leads to peace and contentment, which is far better than anything the world has to offer. 
     It's telling that the Lord's Prayer, in which Jesus tells us how to pray, doesn't contain a single selfish “want.” The closest is “...give us this day our daily bread.” I usually think of this as food, air, water, clothes, and shelter—necessities for survival. Yet Jesus calls Himself the Bread of Life. Bread also can be interpreted to mean God's word—scripture. The other apparently self-focused prayer items include “forgive us our trespasses...and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” I'd hardly call these requests selfish, though. I consider them humble and suppliant, acknowledging the need for God's divine forgiveness and help and guidance 'cause we can't do it on our own.
     The rest of the prayer acknowledges God's sovereignty and holiness and glory and power and superior ability to choose what's best for everyone (“Thy will be done on Earth...”) And, in essence, it requires us to forgive others even before we pray (“...as we have forgiven those who have trespassed against us.”)
     Although I pray in specifics (travel mercies, healing, help in times of trouble or doubt, etc.), I also pray in general terms. ("Make him a man of God you would have him be."  "Guide me in all your ways."  "Bless her mightily."   I love you, Lord, draw me closer to you...") I've even come to the point where I've largely stopped wanting what I want anymore, meaning God's provision is more than sufficient, it's abundant and full, so if I can content myself with that, why want more?
     In short, I'd much prefer my prayers being answered “No” with God's peace and contentment, than having all my prayers answered “Yes” and suffering unhappy consequences as a result. So getting “No” answers from God may be the best blessings yet (especially when we don't pray according to His will).

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