Many of you know that I used to pray up to 4 hours per day on my days off earlier in our marriage (before we had children, of course!). Most of that time, I spent praying for God to change my husband and to keep bad things from happening. I thought I was engaging in something very godly and spiritual back then. But – now – I understand why my prayers went unanswered.
My primary motivation when I prayed was FEAR. I was terrified of all the things I worried about possibly coming true. I wanted to try to keep bad things from ever happening. So, I tried to dictate to God what He needed to do in my life, Greg’s lives and other people’s lives.
My faith was not actually in God. My trust was really in myself. I didn’t actually trust God with things. I was terrified to leave them in His hands. I didn’t believe He would do what was best for me. I thought I knew what was best.
So, my prayers were actually just long worry sessions where I tried to control God and make Him do what I wanted Him to do. I was not praying in the strength of faith in Him. I was not resting in His sovereignty. I was trying to carry the weight of the sovereignty of God on my own shoulders. I was full of fear, doubt, worry, anxiety and frustration. I did not have the fruit of God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
WHAT DOES GOD SAY?
- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:2-8
- Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:7-11
- There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR ME
I MUST have faith in God, or He does not hear my prayers.
I certainly cannot have self as an idol in my heart, pride thinking I know better than God and that my wisdom is superior to God’s and a heart full of doubt and think that God will answer my prayers. First, I must genuinely repent of all the sin in my heart and allow the blood of Jesus to cleanse me from all sin (I John 1:9). It is when I am in right standing with God through Christ that I may approach God in the power of the Holy Spirit and great faith. I am committed to consecrating my life to Him and willing to obey Him no matter what the personal cost to me – seeking His will far above my own will – then I can approach the throne of God with boldness.
Bad things/suffering are tools in the hands of our loving God to chisel us and make us more and more like Christ. My greatest goal used to be to avoid suffering. “God, please don’t let Greg die! Please don’t let us get cancer! Please don’t let anything bad ever happen to us!”
Now, I still don’t desire bad things to happen. I don’t pray for bad things to happen. But I rest in God’s sovereignty and love – knowing that everything that touches my life is permitted by God’s loving, sovereign hands for my ultimate good to be made more like Jesus Christ. I don’t want to suffer, but if I do go through suffering, I trust that God will be with me through the suffering – so I don’t have to be afraid. And, not only will He be with me – but He promises to use the suffering for my spiritual good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).
So, now, instead of praying like I used to:
- God, I have to have a boyfriend! You have to give me a boyfriend!
- I want to be married right now! Make Greg propose to me today. Let us get married immediately. I have to be married!!!!!!!
- Don’t let Greg die before we can get married! If I trust You with him, You might just let him die in some awful car wreck the day before we get married and I will never get to be a bride! Don’t do that to us, God! PLEASE let him stay alive for awhile longer!
- Make Greg love me more
- Make Greg pray with me
- Make Greg talk with me more
- I HAVE to have X!!!!!!! You MUST give it to me!
- Make Greg be more affectionate and romantic the way I want him to be
- Greg needs to do better at making me feel happy
- Make Greg stop watching TV. Make the TV break.
- We need to have children. You need to give us children. We have to have a baby or it is not ok!
- Don’t let Greg die on his way home from work!!! I could never be ok if something ever happened to him!
- I can’t trust you with this or this – I need to hold on to those things, they are really important to me.
- Let us always have good health and have smooth sailing in every area of life
- Make Greg be a godly man and godly leader (the way I want him to be and on my timetable)
- Don’t let anything bad happen to us!!!!!!!!!
I pray things like:
- God, change me! Empower me to be faithful to You!
- Show me MY sin. I want to repent and turn from every single trace of sin that offends Your holiness.
- I am fully Yours. I give you EVERYTHING. I trust You with every part of my life, my husband, my family, our marriage, our careers, our health, our money, our future… I want only Your will. I want your FULL and perfect will.
- Not my will, but Yours be done!
- I know that You know the dates of my death, Greg’s death, our children’s deaths. I know that You know every disease or major injury we will experience. I trust You with those things. I know that Your grace will be sufficient and that You will accomplish Your good purposes even in our suffering. I rest in Your great love for us.
- You have wisdom, I do not. I trust Your wisdom, not my own. I humble myself before You and exalt You as God. You are my Lord! I give you all that I have.
- Thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me!
- Make me more and more like Jesus. Prune me. Cleanse me. Refine me. Purify me.
- I want to obey You and please You more than anything!
- I want to know You more.
- Use me to bless my husband, family and others for Your glory no matter how they respond or act.
- I want to be able to absorb all I possibly can from Your Word! Teach me Your ways!
- I pray for Your will and Your greatest glory in my life no matter what the cost to me.
- Only let me have Your Spirit, Your presence, Your power, Your Word. You are all I need!
- I trust You with the affairs of the nations and the world, the economy, our government and everything. I know You are in control and I praise You and thank You that You will use all of the events in the world for Your glory. Even if our nation collapses or some tragedy or disaster strikes, I will trust You. My trust is not in my bank account, or in having electricity, or in our president, or the economy or my job. I put my trust only in You. If we suffer, I know it will be for Your good purposes. If we suffer, I pray for Your glory to result. I will not fear for You will be with me.
- Draw my husband to Yourself – not to make my life better or easier, not for my selfish purposes, not to make me feel more loved – but to bless him. Glorify Yourself in his life. Empower him to be faithful to You, to be a man of God, a bright light, in a dark and desperate world.
- I would love to adopt children, but if that is Your will, I know You will give Greg the desire to adopt children as well, and I lay this dream in Your sovereign hands. I will be content in You either way.
- Use me to teach and train our children to know You, to love You, to love what You love and hate what You hate, to trust You and to build their lives on Christ and on the Word of God.
- Protect my family from evil and temptation. Let us avoid the snares of the evil one. Let our only addiction be Jesus Christ.
- Set me, my husband and my children apart for Your use. Make us holy as You are holy. Use us for Your kingdom’s work. We are fully Yours.
- This life is so short. Let me use my time wisely. Let me be faithful to You. I want to hear You say to me, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I can’t be faithful to You on my own. Fill me with Your Spirit and empower me to be the woman You desire me to be.
- Let me have the full presence of Christ and power of Christ in my life, Lord! I am hungry and desperate for You!