Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Say the Words

A couple nights (Monday, I think) ago I was praying before bed about something I really didn't want to be praying for or about and God hit me with something that wrecked me. So here it is.

Shortly after my wife left back in September God began prompting me to pray for a variety of things involving her. One of the main reasons, I believe, had to do with God healing my hurt and helping me to forgive her. Part of me wanted the prayer to be fulfilled (primarily because I didn't want that anger, but more importantly my boys needed her), but the other part of me wasn't ready for that much kindness (whether I was ready or not, God was so it didn't matter). Regardless what the reasons, with mixed feelings I was obedient and began praying for her.

Since September, at God's directing, I've been praying almost the same prayer everyday. I make sure to pray it at least once during the day by myself and once with my boys. Over time, I began to really feel God begin to heal my heart and a definite release from the hurt and anger toward her. However, recently some of that anger has resurfaced based on some very specific events (I'll get back to this part). Point is, whether I wanted to pray for her or not, I did, even through the times where she made me mad. Then as if that wasn't enough, during my lunch break on Tuesday (after the God wrecking night), God prompted me to pray for the guy my wife is currently with. I know, it made me ill too. If there's two things I've learned through all this it's: 1 – God expects you to do what He tells you to. 2 – He doesn't like to have to say it twice. So, with a pit in my stomach, I prayed for him. I almost asked God not to make me do it again, but figured that'd be fruitless.

So, back to the God wrecking me night, Monday I hadn't yet prayed it at any point during the day, so I included it in my prayer before bed. I said my prayer and said amen. After praying I was unusually irritated with the whole having to pray for her and him thing, so I thought something along the lines of, "I'm really tired of praying this, why am I still doing it." Almost immediately I felt like God answered, "I don't care if you're tired of it and because I said to keep doing it." How do you argue that point with God? So I shut my mouth. Then God wrecked me.

Here it is: I really felt like God was trying to make the point that He doesn't need me to want what He prompts me to pray for. I really felt like He was saying that sometimes He just needs us to say the words, in prayer to Him, so He can fulfill that prayer and prove His power for our sake. God doesn't need us to ask for something for Him to be moved to action. He's not a genie sitting around waiting to grant our every wish. God has a plan, a perfect plan, and is going to accomplish the things He wants and needs to see that plan come to completion. Basically, I think God was like, I want you to pray for this, I'm going to make it come to pass (whether you want it or not), I'm going to crush any misconceptions or notions you have about me, and I'm going to use it to grow you. I immediately ran for my bible (well, biblegateway.com anyway) and started looking for a story that might confirm some of that line of thought. I even asked a friend and he referenced the story of Jonah and Nineveh (Here). That kind of fits, but not exactly what I was looking for. The only place I could find that God told some one to pray when they weren't really wanting to, was when Jesus was in the garden and caught his three disciples sleeping. The NLT says, “Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41. But I think the way The Message translates it is maybe more applicable. It says...

Stay alert; be in prayer so you don't wander into temptation without even knowing you're in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there's another part that's as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire."

There was part of me that was eager and ready for anything in God (that's why I was obedient and prayed...because He's amazing and I love seeing him work), but there was also a part of me that wanted to be lazy and not do the work I didn't think was worth doing. It would have been easy not to pray what God wanted, but that would have lead me down a pretty dark road of disobedience (I'm sure of it – if you compromise obedience in one area, it gets easier to do each time).

So that's what God hit me with. If He says pray about something, you pray about it. I think sometimes He just wants us to say the words, He gives us, out loud, so we can hear them said. If we do that, that makes them more real, more solid, you can't take them back. The main thrust of my prayer for my wife had to do with her coming back to God. The next day, I found out that she began emailing specific mutual friends (and she emailed our boys) and asked for forgiveness from all of them. She even told one of them she found and is attending a good church. That may be small and she still has a long way to go, but that's how it begins. He's amazing!

I think (and maybe I'm way off) sometimes He prompts us to pray for and do things that we never expected and never wanted to help build our faith and other virtues. If we only ever prayed for what we want and God fulfilled only those prayers, we'd be spoiled freaking brats. In order to create a heart filled with compassion, forgiveness, love, humility and a burden for the lost, God often times does stuff to make us uncomfortable (at least for me He does – a LOT). Like I said, I wasn't able to find a specific instance where God directed someone to pray for something they didn't want (anybody that knows one, please feel free to comment and share), but I can very clearly see that being something God would do. It's part of His modus operandi (m.o.) to do stuff that doesn't make sense to us.

More than building our faith, I think He might do it to make our hearts fall in tune with His. It's important to pray God's heart often. He'll give us the desires of our heart, but He changes those desires to match His. He desires for EVERYONE to be saved (regardless what we think of the person), that should be our desire too.

Maybe that's what he was trying to teach me. I also think He might have been showing off a bit too, He knows that I enjoy seeing Him do that.

Praying God's Heart,
Bruce