This Summer I sent a series of emails aimed at encouraging people to submit requests and come for prayer during services at my church by exploring what motivates us to pray and what creates road-blocks to connecting with God through prayer. This post is adapted from one of those emails.
Last week we talked about waiting and thanking God while we wait for his answer to our prayers. The whole topic reminded me of advice I received as a child and have heard repeated many times since. I was apparently not good at waiting as child because one of the phrases I heard most often was, “Just be patient!!” My lack of patience was a family joke. Someone even bought me a children’s book titled, “Not now, Sara”.
I didn’t find it funny.
(Now that I’m a mom I know that patient children are about as abundant as unicorns and just as real.)
When my Sunday school teacher taught us about prayer and told us we could always ask God for help with anything I took her at her word and started praying for patience.
It didn’t seem to help.
My impatience was still routinely landing me in trouble. I don’t remember who I was trying to convince I was doing my best by telling them I’d been asking God to make me patient, but the response I got was, “Don’t you know what they say about praying for patience?”
I didn’t know who “they” were, and I didn’t know what they said.
“Don’t pray for patience because God will just give you opportunities to practice it!” laughed the adult.
I didn’t find it funny.
Something about that statement bothered me. I felt a deep unease every time I heard someone say it, but it took me a long time to figure out why.
That old joke isn’t funny because it calls into question God’s goodness and his motives.
Let’s break it down a little:
Don’t ask God for help
You don’t want the kind of help he will give you
There is fear embedded in that joke.
I learned to fear what God might do to me if I asked him for help.
I routinely stopped myself mid-prayer for fear that God’s answer to my request would be, well, kind of tricky.
Because of that fear I doubted his love.
Have you ever felt/thought/done the same?
Come on, I know I’m not the only one!
Wanna know how I grew past that lie and into real intimacy with God?
By hearing other people pray.
Especially hearing other people pray for me.
Spiritually mature brothers and sisters who prayed for me with boldness and confidence and without hesitation or fear. I learned that I was wrong about God, and I learned the truth which set me free:
“We need have no fear of someone who loves us perfectly; his perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what he might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what he might do to us and shows that we are not fully convinced that he really loves us. So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.” 1 John 4:18-19 TLB
If you’ve ever doubted God’s motives and his goodness. If you’ve ever been afraid to pray. If you don’t have an intimate relationship with him yet, because you haven’t learned to trust him yet…
Maybe you are misunderstanding some aspect of God’s character just like I was.
You don’t have to be a hostage to fear. You can use fear to open up a conversation with God:
What exactly am I afraid of?
Where did this fear originate from?
Is the fear based in fact or fiction?
What thoughts, beliefs, and actions have I allowed this fear to produce in me?
Do I want to continue with those or not?
What thoughts, beliefs, and actions am I choosing now instead of letting fear make my decisions?
If you want someone to talk through this with just leave me a comment or send me a message!
Next week we’ll explore humanity’s universal worst fear. You can subscribe below to get that post, and all the rest, in your inbox!