Monday, January 13, 2014

Request and Prayers

As a Christian, I struggle. That's a loaded statement, there is much for us to struggle over. But specifically, I struggle with the desires of my heart and the will of God's. Growing up Catholic, it seemed very basic and somewhat impersonal. This is probably due to my own perceptions and not the official stance of the church, but that is what I saw the purpose of the saints was. You appeal to the saints for the desires of "worldly" matters and God will take care of the big picture.

In my new understanding of non-Catholic Christianity (and this isn't a debate about Catholicism vs other Christian beliefs), we appeal to God for everything.

But this is hard for me to do and I think other people struggle with it as well. We are told to bend to God's will for us, we are told that He has a plan, and we are encouraged to find His path for us. But we are also told that God loves us as a father and that He very much wants us to appeal to him for our hearts desires. This doesn't mean He will grant us that, just that we should pray to Him for our wants and for His will.

Understanding all of this in my head, I still find myself to be conflicted. It is hard to find that balance between wanting what you think is good and recognizing God's sovereignty in your life. I wondered if it was ok for me to pray certain things. I felt conflicted in saying "God I want ____, but we know Your will is best." It felt a little helpless. I didn't know if I was praying correctly, but still, I continued. "God, please let Matt find a new job, but we know Your plan is infinitely better than ours." "God, please help this person heal, but we know that Your will be done." "God, please let this need be taken care of, but we know that You provide all that we actually need." And four sets of times now, "God, please grant us with a child, but we know that You have something in mind for us." For someone so definite and communicative, it feels/felt a little back and forth, and I just wasn't sure if I should be praying this way.

Clarity came this Sunday.

We read Luke 22:39-44

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Verse 42 called out to me. Jesus appealed to God for the desires of His heart, but also bent to God's will. It is ok for us to ask God for what we want, He wants us to speak to Him about our dreams and hopes and wants, as long as we understand that it may or may not be the time or place, or to have it given to us at all. I find it so comforting to know that both aspects can exist in my prayers and to have it modeled for me! 

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