A Prayer for the Church

God, be with our church, with those who are called by Your name. Help us to realize that You are the most important thing in our lives, and that You and You alone have the power to change people’s hearts. Help us to realize our calling to love the lost, heal the wounded, both in body and in spirit, feed and clothe the poor, encourage the broken-hearted, and in all we do, to guide those around us to You. Let us see beyond the actions, beyond the anger and the hatred and the skepticism of all who reject You; let us see as much as You allow us to of their hearts, that we may know their pain and have only compassion and love for them, as You had love for us. Give us wisdom in dealing with people and with situations in life; only You know what is to come and what is truly best for us. Let us accept Your judgments and Your answers to our prayers, even when that answer is not what we want to hear.

Help us, Lord, to ignore those things that don’t matter that we might live in peace with each other, not striving to outdo each other in any way, but striving only to serve you with all of our hearts, minds, strength, and souls. Teach us humility and contentedness, teach us patience and mercy, teach us faith and love, but first, Lord, give us the courage to pray for these things in earnestness, for we know that You will always answer prayers for things that are in Your will for us. Help us to understand Your ways, that You often teach us love by giving us difficult people to love, that You show us how to be patient by letting us want things immediately. Help us to grow, Father, that we might be closer to You.

For our church, Father, please strengthen our faith. Show us that Your Word is still alive today, that it is not void or outdated or false. Show us our sins, and then show us our hearts that cause us to commit these sins. Most of all, change our hearts that we may seek You first above all things. Help us to be different from the world, let them see that You do change people, and that what we have is something they need. Give us the strength to weather persecution, to not only endure, but to praise You when it comes that we are counted worthy to suffer for Your glory. For it is always, Lord, about Your glory, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the honor forever.

Let Your will be done in our lives.

Amen.

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Why You Need to Pray the Prayers You Don’t Want Answered

On Friday, I had a phone interview with an organization I wanted to work for. This morning, God told Leah and I that He didn’t want me taking this position. We’d been praying that if it was  His will, they would offer it; if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t. But then during my prayer time this morning, He just said no. When Leah returned from her prayer walk, I asked her to pray specifically about this and she heard the same. So I removed my name from consideration.

It wasn’t easy. Walking in faith rarely is.

Leah joked a little after that I should take a break from blogging because yesterday I’d written about having more faith and asking God to give us something hard to do, something we can’t do without Him. This morning, we received our answer.

I can’t help but think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if God answered all my prayers so quickly?” If He’d answered all my prayers since we’ve been married, I’d be worth about $100 million more than I am (or, just a few dollars over $100 million in total), have our dream home built in a forested area of Colorado, with no worries in the world. Prayed for money, didn’t happen. Prayed for a job, the one it seems I’d get God tells me not to pursue. Prayed for a challenge, and that’s the one He answers.

Thank God He did.

I’ve said before that we can only build character when we don’t want to. But it’s this character growth that God is really interested in, not because He wants us to be holy on our own, but because we can’t grow this character beyond a certain point without Him. It’s why He’s so quick to answer prayers for growth: because He is so eager for us to know Him better.

Though I have to admit it’s terrifying, though my brain has been yelling at me all morning, overall, I have a sense of peace. Even though I didn’t really want Him to answer my prayer (as evidenced by my fretting a bit when He told me to give up the job opportunity), at least not as much as I wanted Him to answer my other prayers, He did answer my prayer. He is here with me, right now, right where I am and my prayers are getting through.

When I’m praying for things I want for myself, it’s easy to believe that God’s not hearing me. I reason that if I’m living the life He wants me to live, He should answer me, preferably with a strong, quick “Yes, here it is!” I don’t seem to consider that perhaps He has a better plan, a better life. A life with fewer earthly treasures or, at least, a life in which they matter less to me.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a scarier situation, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a situation where I’ve had as much to lose. I don’t know how things will turn out, but I do know that with the growth God has worked in me, I’ve already gained so much more than I risk losing. All because I prayed the prayers I didn’t really want answered.