I was reminded recently of my cousin who attended the local university where I grew up. He lived in an all men’s dorm at the time. There was one fellow who really wanted to be married. He started praying for a wife and as time passed felt impressed that a certain young woman was the one for him. He approached her and told her what he felt God had told him. Other men heard his story and followed suit. Each prayed a respectable amount of time and then approached the woman they felt certain God had given them. As word got around campus of what was happening the women started responding with…”Well, God hasn’t told me and until He does I have no interest in dating, let alone marrying, you.”
Praying is always a good idea. We need to pray more, but we shouldn’t use it as a tool to manipulate others who might not agree with us. Many people pray. Many people come up with different conclusions. Who is to be believed as having the word from God? I find that my prayers are colored by my desires. I am still human and my heart is deceitful. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have this heart issue. I can respect someone, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything they come up with when they are in prayer.
I am reluctant to proclaim…”I have prayed about it and this is what God wants!” Often the reality is “…I have prayed about it and this is what I want.”
So how do we pray? How do we know when the conclusions we come up with are the right ones?
A good place to start is to be honest with God. Lay out your desires and your wants, but also lay out your desire to follow His lead. To be ready to take yes or no as the answer. To be uncertain enough in our own ability to know the truth that we won’t be disappointed when God takes us down another path. Maybe one that is unexpected.
I am the most at peace in prayer when I leave the end result up to God. To explore possibilities on my knees is better than pushing my agenda.
This makes me think of a verse in Psalms.
“He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15
Am I so determined to get my way that God gives me my request?
God’s ways are not my ways. I long to be so close to Him that there is no doubt about each step I take, but until I step into glory that will not be the case. So in the mean time I pray. I pray for wisdom. I pray for grace as other brothers and sisters come up with different conclusions. I pray that God is at work in each of us to make us more like Him. And in the end that might be more of the point than all the grand plans we are determined to set in motion.