Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear God

Heavenly Father,

I saw what you did there.  You know that I'm having a rough time figuring out prayer, so You had three crying females call me the other day asking for prayer.  I've got to admit, that was pretty clever.  It reminded me that I need to quit walking around in the fog and dig into your Word to find out what I need to really pray with them and for them.  Good one.

I know that You are not a magic genie, waiting around for me to ask You to grant my every wish.  You're not a slot machine where, if I just put enough cha-ching into the collection plate, I'll have my every desire met.  You are not like Burger King - I can't have everything my way.  There's no formula for getting my prayers answered the way I want.  There are times when it's relatively easy to submit to Your Will because I figure You want what's best for me, know what I need and will supply me with what I need, when I need it.  But I'm guessing Your idea of what is best for me and my idea of what is best don't line up a lot of the time.  And when they don't, I find myself questioning if You have my best interests in mind at all.  As if I'm entitled to tell You that You're doing it all wrong.

I know that You have taught us to pray in every situation according to Phillipians 4:6, but I'm wondering if we've taken that too literally.  On at least three separate occasions, I have prayed for a bowel movement.  (The docs once said that if my friend's son didn't have a poopy diaper soon, he'd have to undergo surgery to correct an apparently blockage.  Stuff like that.)  I've questioned before whether or not You could be convinced to say 'yes' to a prayer asking for a close parking space when we're running late.  Or for a favorite sports team to win a game.  I hear a lot of people praying for peace, comfort after the loss of a loved one, healing, protection, to be 'led' to a certain job or neighborhood, church or spouse, or for wisdom in other kinds of decisions, like budgeting income, how to discipline children, how to deal with difficult people.  I have seen books written about how to pray our way into a strong marriage or a better paying job.  (I guess these books are for people who don't want to bother You by having You tag along in their lives.  If they just pray for a decent spouse, they can eliminate any need for You to help them out along the way.  Hmmm.)

Lord, I realize that Your ways are difficult to understand.  People have been debating them for generations.  I'm not trying to suggest that I should be able to understand them.  If I could understand You, You wouldn't be worthy of my worship, and I wouldn't need You because I could figure it out all on my own.  I think You plan to keep some stuff from us and leave a bunch of stuff open to interpretation because that's the only way we'll recognize our need for You.  When we have these questions, our faith should lead us straight to You, instead of away from You or to some counterfeit version of You.  I'm sorry that I haven't been more patient with You.  I need to remember that You have asked us to have faith for a reason.  I need to realize that I lack nothing if I have You.

Lord, I'm scared.  I want so desperately to trust You.  I want to know that You care about me and that You will be by my side in this life and not just in heaven.  I want to trust that You'll listen to my prayers even if they're stupid, even if I'm asking for something ridiculous, even if I'm just begging to know You more and be allowed into Your presence.  I'm trying to work through some of my own personal crap, and I'm struck by how this is sooo NOT a good time to be questioning You.  I think it's possible that Satan realizes that I'm terrified and is trying to make me weaker so that I will continue to avoid dealing with this stuff.  Please, Lord.  Make him go away. 

I need you.  I remember what it was like to deal with this stuff without You, and I can't go through that again.  I need to be able to trust that You've got my back and won't abandon me.  I need to know that You will keep Your promises.  I need to know that You can take this sad part of my life and turn it into something of value.  I don't mind going through it if I can believe that it'll result in something beautiful.   I know.  There I go again always being more concerned with the result than the journey.  I know.

I'm sorry that I don't yet have the faith of a child.  My questions and my own sense of justice keep me from having the kind of faith that can easily withstand attack.  I'm sorry that it's so easy for me to doubt and question and so hard for me to believe and obey.  I realize that having a child-like faith doesn't mean not having questions.  My kids ask me "Why?" all the time.  It's just that I know that I can try to rip my life out of Your hands when I'm doubting You, instead of pestering You with my questions.  I know me - I try to figure it out on my own without Your intervention.  My kids don't stop pestering me, and I'm pretty sure You'd be thrilled if I pestered You with my questions.  So, heads up.  I've got a list.

I think one of the main reasons why I'm struggling is because we humans can't explain You, and yet, we try.  And for some reason, I usually turn to books about You rather than the Book by You.  I've read some pretty cheesy, inaccurate explanations for Your more mysterious ways.  Like how You answer prayer in one of three ways - "yes," "no," and "wait."  And then I get all confused because it doesn't matter to whom I direct a petition, those are the only possible responses I could ever get.  It doesn't explain the deeper reasonings YOU must have for how You respond to prayer.  I'm probably walking around with questions that could easily be answered if I would simply read Your Word and quit expecting to find some explanation in these other books.  Or again, maybe You want me to be in the dark about some of this stuff so that I have to employ faith. 

I'm sorry that I haven't been using the resources that You've given me because I am lazy and impatient and don't want to wait around for the Holy Spirit to help me interpret Your Word.  I'm sorry that most of my prayers come across as a Wish List from some brat.  I'm sorry that I don't spend more time looking at my own heart and acknowledging the yuck that is in there.  I'm sorry that I don't repent more often.  I'm sorry that I don't praise You enough, stopping to thank You for all the beauty in my life and in the world.

I pray that Your Kingdom would come - even if it looks different from how I want.

I pray for Your Will and realize that I don't have to wait for heaven before I'm able to experience You and Your Kingdom.  Thank you for the privilege of being involved in Your Kingdom this side of heaven.

Lord, You are aware of my needs more than I am.  Please give me what I need for today, and I won't worry about tomorrow.  I know that You call it Daily Bread, and not Monthly Bread, for a reason.

Please help me see people with Your eyes so that I can shower them with the same extravagant grace You show to me.

I'm sorry that I screw up as often as I do.  Lord, I want to be like Your Son.  Please give me the strength and desire to resist temptation - pull me out of the muck of my own failings.  I don't want to be distracted by the things and ways of this world.  I want to live for You.


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