One of those conversations focused on prayer. I asked some friends if they ever struggled with weakened prayers because of their understanding of the sovereignty of God. I find all over Scripture that we are supposed to pray confidently, assured that God will answer our requests, but very often I found myself leaving God a loophole, so to speak. Instead of praying, "God, please heal this person," my prayers often were more like, "God, please heal this person if You want to. Because, ultimately, Your will is going to be done, and You know best. So really please just do whatever you want. Personally, I would really like it if you healed them." I may not have said those words, but that was the feeling and the understanding that I spoke with.
Ultimately, I didn't want to open my heart up to be broken just because God had a better plan. I understood very well that God's plan IS perfect, and whatever He decides to do is so much better than what I've asked, even if it is painful at the moment. But the more passionately you pray for something, the more you are opening up yourself to some serious pain. I know this from experience, but I didn't share that experience with my friends today, because I wanted to stay on topic. But I think I'll share it with you. Maybe writing sappy stuff will get my blog noticed in the world (HAHA!).
It's funny how weird things from your childhood impact you, even if you don't realize it. For example, until last year I hated going into Subway, because that's where my mom, aunt, grandma, stepmom and I met before we picked out the flowers for my daddy's funeral. And I honestly think that, along with the heat and the noise, 4th of July is my least favorite holiday because of what I'm about to share.
I was only six when my biological father passed away (until this year I did my math wrong and thought I was seven). I wasn't really very aware of my daddy's illness until the very end. One Independence Day (or at least I think it was - there were fireworks going off somewhere for some reason) a great group of people got together and laid their hands on my daddy and prayed for him. They prayed and they wept and they prayed some more. The fervency of their prayers scared me, but they prayed so confidently. They were asking God to heal my father, and expecting Him to do so. I think that night may have been the only time before he died that I felt there was a great sadness coming into my life. But I was so young, and a new Christian. I prayed so hard that night. I remember it was humid. I poured out my heart, and then rested easy. God wouldn't let anything bad happen to my daddy.
I'm not sure what day or what year that prayer meeting took place, but I do know that my daddy passed away on July 28th. And it shook me.
I didn't blame God for taking the coolest guy I knew. I certainly didn't understand His sovereignty, but I did firmly believe that God was good. Over time I have realized that everything, EVERYTHING happens for His glory and our good. My life would not be what it is today if my dad had not died. I would not know God like I do today if he had been healed from his cancer.
But at the same time, I let some things latch onto me in that time. Things that I didn't realize could be a problem. Like I've already mentioned, Subway made me sick. Thankfully I've overcome that. I developed a slightly superstitious dread of the laying on of hands while praying. The first year I went to Mexico our group was at the front of the church and our church came to lay hands on us and pray for us before we left. The whole time I was scared to death that I was going to die - and I was 14 (I think)! Last year God set me free from that fear (may His Name be praised!).
But another leech that I wasn't aware of until this afternoon was that, while I certainly trusted God with my life and everything minor in it, I didn't really trust Him with my prayers. This has actually manifested itself in many ways, and I never noticed before. It was fine with me if God ruled the world and everything in it, including my life and the lives of my loved ones. But I didn't want to pray, because that makes hard times harder, or so I thought. Did I really think that if I asked the Lover of my soul for something dangerous (salvation, healing, radical provision) He would intentionally crush me? I did. Oh, God forgive me, I did! How could such a monster have hidden in me for so long? And what a fool I am if I ever think no monsters like it could be left.
And so, through my friends, and recruited wisdom from some of the wise men in our church, God revealed to me that I really just need to trust Him (doesn't it seem to always come back to that?). Yes, I should pray confidently and boldly! Yes, I know that God is sovereign, but that should not affect the fervency of my prayers. If I remember that all things are ultimately in His hands, rather than taking that as a reason for me to pray in a wishy-washy manner, I should cling to it as a confidence that no matter what God's answer, He WILL give me the strength to live through it, and it WILL work out for His glory and my good!
What a beautiful God, what a beautiful God, what a beautiful God we serve!
The funny thing is, I hadn't even thought about this topic in months, and it just jumped out of my mouth before I realized what I was asking. Hmmm. Coincidence? HA!
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
[I would just like to mention that because I was very young, my memories of that prayer time may not be entirely accurate. I've never spoken to anyone about it, at least, not since it was a recent occurrence, so I don't have any verification. But it did make a huge impact on my life, and I did faithfully record what I remember. If my memory is a traitor, please forgive me.]