Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Praying... For You

I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciated the book, “In the Land of Believers,” by Gina Welch. If not, I’m mentioning it now. There is real benefit to seeing yourself as others see you.

One of the things Gina addresses in her book is prayer: “If it was God’s will, wouldn’t it just happen, since God was in charge?” In other words, why pray?  If God's will is to be accomplished, how can we know what that is?  I mean, how do we know we're not praying for something contrary to what God desires?  And why even waste time rooting for a horse in a fixed race?

Prayer is about relationship.  At the risk of simplifying things, allow me to offer this.  Each year, Scott and I ask the girls what they want for Christmas or birthdays -- for a number of reasons:

1) Things have been mentioned or spotted throughout the year, but it’s the things they really want, that make the list. God wants to know the things that are most precious to us. By knowing what is on the hearts of the girls we learn much about their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and even areas in which we might channel more of their time – acting lessons for the one who repeatedly requests “dress up” clothes, a trip to the art museum for the one who loves paints. Now that's not to say God needs prayer to lean about us, God knows the desires of our heart, but He desires for us to recognize those things as ways in which we can serve and honor Him most.

2) We want the girls to feel comfortable enough to share with us their ideas, goals, and longings. It’s sort of a “relationship check,” knowing they feel close enough, confident enough, and safe enough to tell us what’s really important to them. God wants us to approach His throne with confidence, to feel safe with Him, and to be as close in relationship to Him as possible.

3) Talking to them – about anything – keeps the lines open and shows them we genuinely desire relationship with them. God knows all. Prayer is not His way of “keeping up with the latest dirt.” Prayer keeps us talking – and listening – to Him, frequently. I absolutely abhor those annoying Christmas letters that people began substituting for heartfelt wishes several years ago. “I don’t hear from you all year, and because it’s Christ’s birthday you send me a five page disquisition about your family and all the wonderful things you’ve done over the last 365 days? Why?” Real relationship, we were made for it.

4) "The List" changes them.  Believe it or not.  Throughout the years, we've watched them go from the most outrageous of requests to items completely within our budget, items perfectly permissible, and items "worthy of a wish."  We've not only learned about them, but they have learned about us.  They know we will not buy them junk that breaks within fifteen minutes of opening -- no matter how badly they want it.  We will not neglect our responsibilities to fund their whims.  They know what will and will not receive approval.  As a child, my prayers were of reversing a bad grade I’d already gotten on my report card; I’d like to think my relationship with God has matured (partially through prayer) since then.  I'd like to think I've learned a little more about His will.

Our time in prayer is an intimate conversation, an honest dialogue for the purpose of strengthening a relationship, the most important relationship we can have.   
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