This was a difficult post to write: fair warning.
This past Monday afternoon in a small community south of Fort Dodge, IA, two girls, ages 12 & 15 were abducted by a man who was a registered sex offender in Iowa. The 12 year old escaped and was found. The man was found after he committed suicide. The search for the 15 year old is still ongoing.
Last night, there was a community prayer gathering for this young lady. The reason that I bring this up is that it touches upon what I have been learning about prayer over the last 7 weeks or so. They prayed for her safe return. One person was quoted as saying, “I just felt the need to pray for her to be found safely.”
It is also my desire that this young lady be found safe. What I can’t get out of my mind right now is this: has anyone thought to stop and, before praying, ask God, “Father, what is that You want to do here?” In situations like this, we rush in and pray because of the depth of our concern and compassion. This concern and compassion is good, not bad, but when we rush in, what I have learned is that we are now praying in our own strength, not God’s.
It has been far too often that I do this very thing; I rush in and end up praying in my own strength. If I then base my hope upon that, then that hope is very weak because it is based on my own weakness. I’m not saying that it isn’t God’s desire that this girl be found safe; I’m hoping it is. What I am saying is this – has anyone become still before Him and asked Him what He wants to do?
And I have to admit; that can be a scary question to ask God! I have found that my desires, which tend towards comfort and safety and no problems and no concerns and no struggles, aren’t always what God wants to do. And if I am praying out of my desires because I have not asked Him and listened to Him as He tells me what His desire is, how do I know what His will is? And according to I John 5:14-15, I only have confidence that He hears what I am praying when I am praying according to His will.
I don’t always understand why God wants to do what He wants to do. What I do understand is that, no matter what, I can trust His goodness, His desires, His path and His will.
My wife and her family know a man who when asked to pray for safety for someone who is traveling, absolutely refuses to do so. Why, you ask? Isn’t that callous and uncaring on his part, you think?
He explains why he refuses to do so. It was during an accident earlier in his life that God used to get a hold of him. If the accident had not occurred, this man isn’t sure where he would be spiritually. He refuses to do so because, maybe, just maybe, God wants to use an incident while that person is traveling to work in that person’s life? And praying for safety because it is our desire for that person, when God wants to do something else, is quite selfish and myopic on our part.
I am coming to the realization more and more all the time that what is God’s will is something about which I’d rather not pray. I am coming face-to-face all the more that much of how I have prayed over the years has truly been out of selfish desires.
I have told God what I wanted Him to do. In essence, I have place myself in the position of master over God; I have place myself in His place. I’m thinking that it was this very attitude and action which caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven and was the original sin in the garden. I have continued it in my praying.
All of this realization is making me cling all the more to the goodness of God, His favor upon me and the provision He has attached to every problem and situation I face. It has made me so much more dependent upon Him.
For this I rejoice.
Do I desire for this girl to be found? More than words can express. Having children, how could I desire differently? But, what is a greater desire is that God carry out His will as He reveals it. It is His will revealed to me, as I hear the Holy Spirit and Jesus praying it, which I will pray. I will not pray in the strength of my own desires.