I have a sign in my room that has been hanging for going on around five years, since my family moved to the house we’re currently in. It just says, “Pray big.”
Over the past few weeks and months, I’ve been looking over my prayer life. I’ve been reading through my prayer journal entries. I’ve been looking at how often I resemble the Lord’s Prayer. And even evaluating what I actually thank Him for, and what I ask Him for in comparison to what I honestly need or want.
Although I’ve been making progress in my prayer life — and I believe that any prayer is better than no prayer at all — I realized that I wasn’t asking God for anything specific. I wasn’t “praying big” like the sign sitting on my window ledge hopefully instructed. I wasn’t exhibiting the childlike faith that was so alive within me a few years ago.
Let me preface by saying: Orienting your whole language around the ultimate will of God is vital. He has supreme authority, He is in control, and – thankfully – our own desires are not the center of his orbit.
But, I found that I was wrapping my friend’s names in vague pleas or my own dreams in lofty thoughts. The prayers weren’t wrong, and there were a few exceptions. It’s not wrong to say, “Just do You will, Father, because I don’t know what You’re doing.” But the reason I was leaving it at that was because I was living with little faith and underestimating my Father. I wasn’t asking Him to intervene in specific ways and actions, because if He didn’t do it exactly as I wanted it to all be done, I was afraid I would retaliate against Him. I was often afraid to ask God for anything specific because I thought that He would disappoint me. I knew if He disappointed me, I’d be more prone to wander, and I couldn’t afford it.
But the thing was, when I was trying to hide my heart’s desire from my God, I was already wandering. I was wandering and I was not trusting. With the blessings He was giving me, I was plagiarizing them and calling them my own creation. When I felt a lack in my life, I wasn’t telling Him about the emotions I was feeling, because I was feeling guilty that I was feeling any void at all. With the abilities and compartments of my life that meant most to me, I wasn’t keeping held with an open hand because I was afraid that He would snatch them from me. I was distancing myself from Him and the truths I knew by heart.
“For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” —Matthew 7:8-11
But in my internal struggle the fact was this, and is this: He is a good, good Father. He is a gift to us, and yet He still gives good gifts that are born from His heart. And in everything I ask for, He will not be flippant in the way He acts. He will make sure His glory is known through His response, and that my refinement and discipleship and relationships are strengthened on the other side.
There are many goods that God will not give us unless we honor Him and make our hearts safe to receive them through prayer. . . . God will not give us anything contrary to His will, and that will always include what is best for us in the long run. We can, therefore, pray confidently because he won’t give us everything we want. —Timothy Keller, Prayer
I have started praying big again.
I don’t know if He’ll say yes to any of my requests. But I know that He is changing me in the process of my honesty.
In case of disappointment and the possibility of wandering, may He soften our hearts toward Him in these times of waiting, so that when the climate changes we will realize that having Him is better than all our small expectations and His good gifts. May we be able to thank Him for not saying yes to our small prayer, because of His big plan. We can remain confident in our requests, because He will give us what is best.
And if He graciously grants us the desires of our hearts, may we accept it humbly, thanking Him for His will and for the preparation of our hearts to receive it, and that we would be driven closer into His heart in the celebration.
In all these things, may we thank Him for the how much more in all the ways He gives.
more than anything I want, I want You first — Lauren Daigle, First