Pray What?

I read a book about prayer yesterday. The take-home message I got from it was, “Find some big thing you want God to do and pray until you get it.”

It’s a message I’ve heard often, one that can be supported with biblical examples. The Bible is full of stories of amazing things God did – parting the Red Sea, knocking down the walls of Jericho, keeping Jonah alive inside the belly of a whale. God often works out the impossible in the lives of his people just so we know it is Him at work and not us, His power being demonstrated most effectively in our weakness. I can testify to that in my own life time and time again. So I’m not knocking the idea that God does great things and we should pray for Him to accomplish great things.

But as I was reading this book, and my mind began to wander to the “great things” I’d like to see happen – that my novels sell, my school grows, my husband gets his dream job – I felt God saying to me, “Really, Krista?”

All the “big things” coming to mind were external. But over and over again, I see in scripture that God is far more concerned with the internal. He wants a pure heart, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, He wants me to love others and serve Him with everything I have.  And in the grand scheme of things, how many books I sell really isn’t going to matter. But how I loved my family, friends, and students as I was writing – that will matter. How I lived the Christ-life as I went through the ups and downs of life – that will matter.

So I decided I would start praying for the big things, praying until I got them. But the big things aren’t external. The really big, really important requests, involve a change on the inside. So I am praying God makes me more like Christ. I am praying my selfish tendencies be replaced by selflessness. I am praying that my discontent be replaced by thankfulness, that my complaining be replaced by rejoicing.  I am praying that I think of the needs of others far more than I think about what may or may not be my own needs.

I am praying for big, huge things that will, hopefully, not just change me, but will be used as an agent of change in the lives of those around me. And I won’t stop praying for those, believing by faith that God will answer them, and knowing those answers will be far more satisfying than any external “things” could ever be.

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