Because I've got some busy days ahead, I've decided to publish a few posts from the archives this week. The following post originally appeared November 30, 2006.
Do you ever get the feeling God is trying to teach you something profound, but you can't quite wrap your head around it? My mind is swarmed with thoughts about prayer, more specifically, faith in prayer.
I'm a firm believer prayer is important and powerful and essential. I have beseeched God earnestly for unselfish things, believing in every fiber of my being He could do it, but seen little results. I have fasted and seen exactly the opposite of what I asked for happen. I have been sure God could do the impossible and waited anxiously to see it unfold, only to watch life go on as normal. I have mustered up all the child-likeness I can to watch Him work in awe, only to feel Him saying, "Tami, did you really think it could be that easy? What do you learn from that?" I discovered recently this disappointment has taken a hit on my faith.
I reached a point where I didn't EXPECT God to answer positively and even worse, didn't always pray about issues because I was certain He wouldn't make it easy on me by "granting my wish." (Now there's a statement that reveals a lot!) I didn't think it mattered if I prayed about my problems because He would do what He thought best anyway. Don't misunderstand me, I still prayed, but with a defeated attitude, not truly believing He would do anything about it. I didn't trust God any less, but was convinced He was putting me through boot camp to toughen me up. He wanted me to suffer a little. I always loved Him and served with devotion, but prayed cautiously, not expecting much.
And then God did a surprising thing. He answered the prayers of people praying FOR ME. I felt the difference too acutely to dismiss it. Now I am left with thoughts of how to view prayer. How much should I expect from God? Should I ask for the impossible because He is God and absolutely has the power to do the miraculous? Or is that putting Him to the test? I believe He CAN do anything, but my downfall is I'm not convinced He WILL. It may not be what is best for me or for those I pray for. I know from experience God is not about magic fixes. We grow in our faith by persevering, especially when we don't understand. We grow by trusting when we don't get it, by hanging on to what His Word says is true, by believing Him even though we can't feel Him.
"And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)
When Jesus comes, will He find me faithful? Will I persevere in prayer, especially when I don't get the answers I want? I suppose that is where the child-likeness comes in, being content with not understanding. (I'm certain the best part of heaven will be FINALLY knowing everything!!!) Without a doubt, my faith has matured and strengthened in my disappointment. God has done a work in my heart that is irreplaceable. I can honestly say I will love Him even if I never get my prayers answered how I'd like. (I admit, though, I'm almost afraid to say so. What if He decides to test me on that?!) When things are not going so well, I am still confident of His love for me.
So I'm revamping how I view prayer. Now I think of it as talking things over with God, not so much asking. I do a lot more of "Here's what I'm feeling, Lord. Here's what's going on" or "What do You think about that?" and a little less "Please help me with ________________." I am so thankful He hasn't given me everything I asked for. His plan HAS to be better than mine.
I'm not sure I grasp the whole idea of prayer, but I know I am to do it, so I will. And when the times of silence from God come, I will persevere. I will trust His judgment. Scripture tells us over and over God rewards perseverance. Hebrews 10:35-36 and James 5:11 are among my favorites, but the verse that spurs me on today comes from Jesus Himself, "but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 24:13)
Lord, thank You for teaching me about prayer. Thank You for stretching my faith and asking me to press on without answers. Continue Your work in me, despite my objections. I love You.