The Wrong Kind of Prayer

In my almost-30 years as a believer, I have prayed for all kinds of things– from requests as seemingly insignificant as a parking space in the rain to literal life-and-death issues.

Right now, though, I feel like God is teaching me to take a step back from the way I’ve always prayed. In the past, I have prayed very specifically — not that praying that way is wrong. In fact, God used the answers to specific prayers to bolster my faith and encourage me that He is there, He is listening, and He cares for me.

But specific prayers can be very selfish (“Lord, give me that job, that house…”). And I can often confuse real prayer with wishes. Though I know God isn’t a genie, I treat Him like that when I am constantly bombarding Him with “I want…” and “I need…” and “Please give me…” requests. Worse – I am assuming I know what’s best, that God should listen to me and do what I say.

Right now, for example, our family is in limbo. Again. Where will Dave work next year? Where will the kids go to school? Where will we live? I want to pray specifics – “Let us stay HERE. Don’t move us again! Or if You do, move us back to where we were before. Not someplace new. Haven’t we done that enough…?”

But, lately, as those prayers have surfaced, I have sensed God saying, “Not so fast.” Rather than praying for specific – selfish – requests that I think are best for us, God is teaching me to pray something different.

He is teaching me to pray for willingness to obey His leading, for peace to trust His guidance, and for strength of character to endure whatever difficulties might lay ahead. He is showing me that my character is of far more consequence than my comfort. And, while I don’t have to like my “limbo” status, I don’t need to focus on finding a way to end it so much as I need to concentrate on what God wants me to learn through it.

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