Friday, August 08, 2008

how bad do you want it?

Many years ago, I was very diligent about getting up early in the morning, reading my Bible, and praying. At the time, I did a lot of praying for my husband. I was praying that he would become the husband and father God wanted him to be. The husband and father I knew he could be. I thought this to be a very good prayer. A very unselfish prayer. I felt good about myself, that I was praying a good prayer.

One particular morning, as I was praying, my eyes were closed, and suddenly it was as though I was standing outside, looking through the kitchen window. The blinds had been pulled up and I could see RL and I sitting at the kitchen table, praying together. Then the blinds came slamming shut and I felt God ask me, "How bad do you want it?"

It's a really serious thing when God asks you a question. But it's even more serious to understand what He's asking you. Unfortunately, I thought He was asking me what it was I would do to persuade Him to answer my prayer. How good of a Christian was I going to be? In reality, what I didn't realize for several years, was that He was asking me if I was willing to love RL unconditionally. Could I let go of what I wanted for him and love him just as he is?

Oh, I love RL the way he is. I just knew he could be better; he had so much potential. I could see all God had put within him, but I couldn't accept him as himself. I was sabotaging my desire for RL to become all God wanted him to be, because I wasn't loving him the way God loves him -- just as he is. This made him feel as though he wasn't good enough. He felt unloved.

I learned two very important things from this (and, of course, I'm still working at it). First, we can't do anything to make God do wonderful things. He does wonderful things just because He loves us. Second, He wants us to love others the way He loves us -- unconditionally, just the way they are. These are so simple and yet so difficult to do. Sometimes it's even difficult to remember.

7 comments:

Desmond Jones said...

This is a very wise post, Phyllis. . .

FTN said...

It's tough to pray intercessory prayer for someone, if it's something that THEY don't necessarily want. It makes sense to pray for a new job for my Dad, because he wants a new job. It makes sense to pray for peace for the family of my uncle after he died, because we all want peace.

But can we pray for things that WE want for someone else, even if they don't necessarily want it? If WE think it's best for them?

As Desmond said, I think your post is wise in how it looks at these things. They become especially tricky within a marriage.

Buttafly32681 said...

It's like FTN said, can you really pray for something that YOU want for someone else? And you mknow- I often find myself praying for strength for somone to get through the situation they are in- or the strength and courage to decide what is best...

this is actually quite a tough subject for our household right now... thanks for posting a different outlook...

Phyllis Renée said...

It's not so much whether or not we can pray for something we want for someone else -- whether or not that prayer will be answered. It's more about aligning ourselves with what God wants for that person. It's surrendering our will to His. And then, even then, their own will sometimes gets in the way.

Desmond Jones said...

Yeah, I don't think it really matters to God whether or not the person I'm praying for wants whatever the thing is that I'm praying for them. I mean, I pray all the time for my kids' character, and for their relationships to correspond with godliness in their lives. And not all of them are down with the whole 'godly character' thing; and some of them have (or have had) relationships that aren't (weren't) helping them on their way to Heaven. And I don't feel bad about praying for those aspects of their lives to change.

And besides, God does stuff in MY life all the time that, were I given my druthers, I'd just as soon do without. It seems to me that God is always interested in forming godly character in us, whether we're terribly interested in it at the time, or not. So I don't have a particular problem with praying for someone to change, in and of itself.

The real deep wisdom that I perceive in this post is the humility and understanding that God doing His work in my spouse might entail some cost to me, and that my duty is to love them, whether the desired change ever happens, or not. . .

Bogart in P Towne said...

Thanks for sharing...

It is wonderful that when we listen...really listen...God will talk to us!

Phyllis Renée said...

Des, that's exactly what I mean. Sometimes the prayer that's actually necessary is "God, change my heart."