A counselor once told me, “Guilt is not a feeling. You’re either guilty or you are not.”
Someone close to me asked me to pray for him a few weeks ago. I haven’t done so well with that request. I have prayed for him, but he requested that I pray for him daily. I haven’t done that for him.
So, as I was readying myself for work today, I pondered. Because I haven’t prayed for him daily, will God not grant him the wisdom and strength he needs at this time in his life? Is God waiting on ME to get Him hear his cries? A number of others were asked to intercede in prayer in addition to me. How many of us does it take for Him to do so?
On a related note, I’m trying to understand how prayer affects life here on the third rock from the sun…one tiny part of our vast galaxy. I am consciously aware that I do not have the power to change another, thus my only option is to change myself, which in and of itself requires a lot of prayer. But here in lies my dilemma. There is someone in my life that realistically I do not believe that even God Himself can change. The bible states in James 1: 6-8, “But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” Idealistically, I want to believe He has the power to intercede, but neither He nor she has made any efforts in our situation. I’m not saying that I am right and she is wrong. All I’m suggesting is that we at least make an effort to communicate and work through the issues at hand by focusing not on ourselves, but on the issues at hand. If I seek continual guidance and growth in this area, and I utilize those research-based skills to communicate in an appropriate manner, and it is met with resistance because bitterness and resentment cloud sound judgment and appropriate (non-abusive) communication on the part of the other party, I know not what to do other than continue to act and respond in an appropriate manner thus avoiding being pulled down into the murky pit slinging mud. So, do I continue to pray that God will hear my prayers? How many petitions will it take for Him to hear? Am I giving this person too much room in my mind as a result of continued prayer? When the unnecessary and or abusive comments roll off her tongue, I’ve relegated my prayers to a simple, “God please do something with her.” I think He knows what I’m asking, doesn’t He? He knows all my thoughts already for the Bible tells me so.
This brings me to another question about prayer and my heart’s longings (and I’m not talking about material wants…I don’t see God as a cosmic Santa Claus…I’m talking more about virtues such as patience and wisdom as well as needs such as strength and guidance). If God already knows my heart’s desires, why verbalize what I’m already communicating with Him in my mind.
I’ll close by saying that I used to be very black and white in my faith, which included my prayer life. I used to believe that my prayers had to follow a script in order to be heard. I would take the Lord’s Prayer, and using my own words, recite them in the model of the Lord’s Prayer. I was led to believe this was the way to pray. After all, isn’t this the model Jesus offered? I no longer believe this to be required of me. I no longer see God as a rule maker, but as a loving God who simply longs for me to have a personal relationship with Him. I now talk to Him as I would my own father. That is why I felt the liberty to say to Him this morning in my prayer, “God, I suck at prayer.”