And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
As I washed Jocelyn’s hair in the bathtub the other morning, we chatted about random things. I’m not quite sure how, but we ended up talking about babies. Jocelyn said she wanted her first baby to be a girl. At just seven years of age, she had it all planned out. “When I’m pregnant,” she said, “I’ll pray to God for a girl. He’ll hear my prayer and give me one.”
I loved how trusting she was: she didn’t doubt for a second that God would hear her prayer, nor did she doubt that He’d answer it. But I knew there was a lesson to be taught. So I grabbed my chance and ran with it.
I explained to Jocelyn that God definitely does hear and answer our prayers, but not always the way we expect Him to. I told her that usually we are praying for good things. But God is so much smarter than us; He knows what would be great. He loves us so much, He answers our prayers with those great things instead.
At that moment, I suddenly knew I wasn’t just teaching this lesson to Jocelyn, I was reteaching it to myself.
As a control freak, I think I know what’s best for me. I’ll try my hardest, and do just about anything to get whatever that is. Included in that process are my avid prayers, ones that I pray so loud and so often, they pound on the gates of Heaven to be heard.
But as I walk deeper into my new path of surrender, I’m realizing I have no right to judge what is good for me and what is not. Like William P. Young says in his book The Shack , we were never meant to judge. We don’t have a broad enough perspective to see how something we perceive as bad can actually be a pathway to good, and vice versa. If Adam and Eve didn’t eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, we wouldn’t even try to discern the difference. We’d just trust God wholeheartedly, every step of the way.
We also wouldn’t lament any negative thing that comes our way. Getting angry or upset over things in our lives that we have no control over serves no purpose at all. It just makes us miserable. The reality is, we have no choice but to work through whatever life hands us. If we don’t judge things as negative, they’re much easier to get through.
As I transition away from some of my ministries, and begin discerning some new endeavors, I need to remember all of this. We all have dreams, and want them to come true. But like the song Dream For You by Casting Crowns reminds us, God’s dreams for us are so much bigger than we could ever imagine. If we’re too busy praying our to-the-letter specific prayers, and holding on to them with all our might, we leave no room for God to work glorious miracles in our lives. Instead, we need to stop judging what is right for us, and pray “Thy will be done.”
Questions For Reflection:
* Have I ever had the experience of judging something as bad that actually turned out to be good? Or vice versa?
* When I pray, do I pray to-the-letter specific prayers? Or do I trust God enough to pray “Thy will be done?”
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