Not long ago I was met with a situation where I was faced with a difficult person. The kind who is never wrong, knows everything, and isn’t afraid to tell you how small and unwise you are. For weeks, this went on. Day after day the continual drip of one unconcerned for my feelings challenged my Christian experience.
I’d wake up with dread knowing I was about to be knocked down a few more pegs that day because my resistance had grown so weak. One person was being given the power to be my undoing. This person may not have been concerned with my feelings but, unfortunately, I was obsessing over them.
However, I then realized my prayers regarding the situation had been very small. I was kind of, sort of, totally whining to God and asking Him to give me “extra patience” or “higher tolerance”. One morning He told me to ask bigger.
And so I prayed for the wisdom to respond to this person in a way that would not only rightly represent His character, but would stop them in their tracks as they saw what they’d been doing.
And He answered. He gave me the exact thing to say at the exact right time to say it, and the result was peace.
But the thing is, He didn’t work out my problem in big ways until I asked Him for a big answer. He’d been responding by giving me the needed patience but I wouldn’t have had to keep asking for patience if I’d been bold enough to be praying to thank Him for knowing how I should best deal with it all.
Thankfully, we have a tireless pursuer in the Holy Spirit and, if we’re listening, He’ll even tell us what and how we should be praying.
I shared yesterday that our family is bound for the foreign mission field of Asia. We’re going with tiny candles into a vast continent filled with beautiful people, many of whom are consumed by darkness because they haven’t been introduced to our Savior.
We want huge things but even still, I keep hearing us praying these tiny little prayers.
“Lord, what will you do with our house? Will you sell it or will you provide a way for us to keep it so we have a spot to land because we have young adult children who will be staying here?“
“Father, how will we live and provide for our family? What if we sell everything and go over there and fail and then have nothing to come back to? How are you going to provide for us?“
“But our friends and our family. It’s taken years to find a place in our church and in our community. If we leave, those relationships will grow cold and people will forget about us. We’ll feel alone in an unknown land and foreign culture.”
“What if something happens to one of us while we’re there? Especially if something happens to one of the children. People will look at us accusingly and saddle us with the blame of our own grief.”
Do you hear it? Do you hear how doubtful we are? How focused on everything but the calling we are? We keep forgetting that He’s the Master Provider and so we, in turn, keep praying for that which has already been promised. We don’t have to ask Him to provide for our needs or to make a way for our bills to be met or our funding to be raised.
We just need to thank Him that He already has and ask Him to help us recognize His voice so we can follow where He leads.
Prayer is communication with God but how often is our communication a rehearsal of fears and complaints and forebodings rather than an exercise in faith? Imagine how different our prayers would be if we prayed bold prayers of faith.
“Oh Lord, we know you’ve called and we don’t even want to consider not answering. We trust you’ll provide everything we need to respond to your bidding and share you with the many beautiful people who don’t even know they belong to you. We’re so grateful that you’ll make a way and you’ll light the path before us, each step as we need it, so we can reach as many hearts as you’ve ordained, with the light of your goodness. We’re so grateful for the gift of human relationships because they help to shape us into who we are as well as who we’re to become. We trust you with those, too. And we know that we have nothing to fear in the unknown because you’ll be leading us by the hand as we go out with your message of mercy. Give us the faith to trust in your provision and break our hearts for your people in ways we haven’t yet experienced.”
See how drastically different it is to exercise that faith muscle?
We’re naturally good at doubt so giving it further practice during prayer is not only impractical, it’s unwise.
The fact that easily 75% of our communication with Him right now relates in some way to money is sound evidence that our faith game is struggling. God owns all the money. He can provide for us as much or as little as He knows is best. It’s not even a thing and yet I’ve wasted literal hours praying about it.
Right now, today…right here in this place, in the deep darkness of a morning so early it’s still considered night…I’m hanging up my excuses.
I hereby refuse to insult God but doubting that He’s…well, that He’s God.
My prayers – by faith, decision, and conviction – are now going to be prayers of victory because He’s already made the way sure. He isn’t required to show us the way in advance in order for it to be so. He’s made provision for our needs, including any pain or grief that may lie ahead, and is only asking that we simply be willing to walk in obedience every moment of every day.
Faith wouldn’t be faith if we could see the unknown. It would be sight.
And eyes that see are exactly what we’ll get if we’re willing to stumble around blind for awhile, trusting we won’t fall because He’s promised to stay near.
By God’s grace, I’m willing.