Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hesitant to Pray

On this National Day of Prayer, I might have spent my morning quiet time with God the way I always do, praying the things I always pray, but for some reason I was more struck by the things that are hard for me to pray for.

I frequently pray for my leadership (church, work and country) because I see that as not just a Biblical directive, but essential key to successful and Godly outcomes and I have witnessed the fruits of those prayers time and again.

I easily pray for my friends’ and co-workers needs, like the Dowdy family needing a home in Toronto or for my colleague Rich to come through his second back surgery with full recovery and minimal pain or for the 15% of my staff that I’ve had to lay off in the last 2 months…

Where I really struggle is praying for myself or my own needs. God has been so good to me. I feel abundantly blessed far beyond what I could ever be worthy enough to receive or deserve that I feel like praying for anything at all for myself is an ungrateful dismissal for all that the Lord has already provided.

For example, our family has faced some pretty significant financial challenges over the past two years with Edward being out of work, but through it all I have faithfully put God first in my finances and never missed a tithe, and God has faithfully taken care of us, stretching our single income and meager savings far longer and further than I would have ever dreamed possible. Now, as those reserves get ever smaller and the nation’s unemployment rate reaches historical record highs, the prayers for Edward to find gainful employment should be the easiest thing for me to start my prayers with, yet they are not. I should be asking my friends and church family to pray for his employment, yet I do not. Each Wednesday in Chapel when Pastor Philip asks for prayer requests I know I should be raising my hand and asking, each and every week, for everyone to pray for Edward’s job search, that God would lead him to the job he’s supposed to find… yet I sit silent. Why?

There’s this fine line I have trouble reconciling about my will and God’s will. How dare I question God’s plan for this chapter of our lives by suggesting that we need something He didn’t already think of? It’s like I can hear God’s retort, “What do you mean, Edward needs a job? Haven’t I taken care of you? Hasn’t every bill been paid? What… are you all about the money now? Have you suffered? Didn’t I cure your cancer? How could you be so ungrateful? Don’t you trust Me?”

If I’ve learned nothing else in this life it’s that God’s plans are always better that my plans and to trust Him. When things aren’t going according to “my plan” it’s because His plan is taking over and there is a purpose. Even if I can’t discern that purpose in the moment (or perhaps ever) I trust Him.

So I find myself in the throws of these somewhat disingenuous convoluted-wordsmithed prayers that, “God, if it’s part of Your will…” or “God, if it’s not contrary to Your will…” or “as long as this doesn’t impede on Your plan, God…” How silly is that? I can have a good, sincere, natural conversation of prayer with God, right up until I get to something for myself.

Help me out here. Does anyone else experience this, struggle with this? How do I reconcile my “want” with God’s “will” …?


a Putnam said...

I feel the same way. I was raised with a lot of teaching about the story of Hezekiah and how he asked too much and God "gave in" to extend his life, but then the end of his life was not at all exemplary. So, the lesson, to my malleable mind, being - be careful what you ask for. It's very hard to overcome that kind of thinking when you learn it at such an impressionable age. But where does John 14:13-14 fit into that scenario? "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." And John 16:22 "Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." And the kicker, Matt. 7:7-11 about the Father WANTING to give us gifts: "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"

I'm still reconciling it all in my head. But I get the overall sense that the Hezekiah story is more a warning about abusing the privilege not a scare tactic to teach us not to talk to our Heavenly Father about our earnest desires.

tracey said...

My prayer life lately has been reduced to "I'm sorry, you're right" & "Help me get out of my own way". So you are not alone.