When you pray, do you set limits for God?
A youth pastor confided in me years ago that he needed to replace his old car. It was just costing him too much to keep running. So in attempt to be a good steward and ‘count the cost’ he researched available used cars. Narrowing his search to just two, he asked God, “should I buy the blue one or the red one?” He prayed this for several days seeking God’s discernment. After pursuing God further on the matter he concluded that he was asking the wrong question of God. It wasn’t “Which of these two cars” but “What is your will Lord?”
Sometimes we set limits for God. We pray for what we want or what we think will be the best solution to our problems. Then we add a condition on the prayer saying, if you will do this for me, then I will do that for you. We set limits on God when we say “If – Then” prayers:
IF you get me out of this mess THEN I will serve you.
IF I can live at a certain standard of living THEN I will give my life to missions.
IF you grant me my request THEN I will thank you.
IF you change my circumstance THEN I will be joyful.
IF you give me more (of whatever) THEN I will be content.
IF you heal me, keep my children safe, and give me a life of comfort, THEN I will trust you.
Instead of praying “If – Then”, try praying “YET STILL”:
I have nothing except your forgiveness, YET STILL I will praise you.
I don’t feel you are close God, YET STILL I will trust you.
I feel alone and abandoned, YET STILL I will seek you.
This person annoys me, YET STILL I will love them.
My world seems meaningless, YET still I will believe in your purpose.
I am anxious and afraid, YET STILL I will rest in your peace.
I am depressed, YET STILL I will find joy in the hope of your promise.
(What other ‘Yet Still’ prayers come to your mind?)
God’s power is not limited by our prayers. Often he grants us even what we don’t ask for. In fact, every moment he grants us a new breath and every day a new opportunity that we don’t even seek, even in our suffering. We don’t ask for cancer, or pain, or loneliness, or poverty. But even in these situations he offers us unexpected blessings and purpose that we didn’t ask. Why? Because his best for us exceeds what we think is best for us. Our plans and dreams are interrupted and sometimes shred to pieces…YET STILL his purpose and plan exceeds our ambitions. YET STILL he is ready to reveal unexpected blessings that grow our faith, our hope, and our love.
Practice praying “YET STILL” to God in the face of your trouble and experience a purpose and a path of his joy for you.