I’ve been thinking a lot lately about prayer, the bringing to God of our deep desires. You’ve got to be willing to hold them loose and let them go. I suspect Dietrich Bonhoeffer would give an earful to anyone who claims God is in the wish-fulfillment business. A Christian life is the life of the cross, right? But at the same time, prayer is all about hope. And how do you continue to hope without losing heart, when hope can be awfully painful? How do you know the difference between faith in the answer to a prayer versus faith in the Answer-er?
So a few weeks ago I was praying and suddenly felt like God was speaking. Go ahead, he seemed to say, tell me what it is you really want. Ask away, and I’m going to give you what you ask for. It was a sunny day, chilly out, and I was walking on a snowy Colorado mountainside, on the edge of a forest. It was gorgeous, a happy-go-lucky day. Wow! I thought. Hmmm… and I rattled off a few things that had been on my heart. I didn’t give it much thought, and I certainly hadn’t shown up with my list of big picture goals to ask God for. My prayer was simple, thankful. Within the week, I began to see answers. Wow — and wow again! It got me thinking — did I ask for the right things? Maybe I should have asked bigger. What would you ask for?
A few things struck me. One, what spilled out of my heart that day was a tumble of deeply felt desire, my simplest, truest wishes. They were not over-thought. They were not anxious. They left the details, and the how-to, to God. I was trusting, and joyful, feeling a great sense of being a beloved child. Two, God seemed really pleased to be having that conversation with me, and more than willing to answer me. It reminded me of a verse I’d just come across in John 15: “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you…” I was having a little chat with God, and hey! He loves me! And the great delight and anticipation I have felt all month, watching and waiting for Him to answer like a kid waiting for Christmas morning, well, that pleases him, too. Three, if I’d been given a week to carefully reflect and consider what I would ask for at that moment, I would have asked all the wrong things. I would have tried to outsmart God, to ask strategic and savvy things. You know, don’t ask for enough money for XYZ, ask to win the lottery (in case there are other things you might need the money for later.)
But it didn’t seem like a wish list, it seemed like a heartfelt conversation. And isn’t that the point?
Sorry for the long delay. We are still on sabbatical, and internet is tricky to come by.