Last night I didn't get to write my blog because the dog came into the house while we were out and "decorated" the dining room table. The dog is still alive, because I am practicing love and forgiveness in all of my relationships, be it with man or beast :)
Even though I didn't post, I did read and had originally planned to condense the two entries together today to keep myself on schedule. But after I let this reading sit for a day, I decided I really wanted to write about it on its own.
The lesson was about prayer, which is by far the biggest conversation we have and (at least I will admit) the one conversation most often avoided or overlooked. And while I found all of the chapter was a good read (relevant and useful) there was one part of the passage that was stuck in my mind all day today.
In one section of the reading, the author instructs us to pray to God with confidence. If we don't think God can help us, why are we bothering to ask Him? Pray knowing that God can change the circumstance or situation.
...Mmm hmm. Got it. Pray with confidence...yada yada yada...
"As you ask, remember that it is not your job to protect God's reputation. Some stop asking because they feel embarrassed for God when the answers don't come at exactly the time or in the manner in which we would like them to come."
...BAM! Whoa. Guilty party here!...
I really do believe in the power of prayer. But I would be lying if I said that I have been given everything I asked for. Some things I have fervently prayed for and the answer was still 'No.' So in light of this, I have tweaked what I consider prayer-worthy material, or I will pray for the big item only once. That way, if it doesn't happen, I can lie to myself that God must have overlooked it in the jumble of my requests or I can make the excuse that I didn't pray hard enough and that's why it didn't happen.
Today, I was talking to my daughter in the car and the truth about "unanswered prayers" suddenly hit me. It is a simple story, and stems from a scenario I am sure is similar to many stories I have discussed on this blog before. Sammi was saying that she was hungry for a snack and I asked her what she would like me to fix her when we got home. The rest of the conversation basically went like this:
Sammi: Can I have some fruit snacks.
Me: No, babe. You already had some today in your lunch box.
Sammi: Can I have some candy?
Me: No, we will get lots of candy this weekend. How about a healthy snack?
Me: No, Sam, Cheetos are a treat. They are not healthy.
Sammi: Wah! Boo hoo hoo!
When I pray, I am a lot like my four-year-old. If the answer isn't 'yes,' then I don't understand it. I am also likely to pout or cry. But what I need to accept, as a grown adult who has (hopefully) matured beyond that of my preschooler, is that when the answer is 'no' it really is in my best interest.
Sammi doesn't get her junk food or treats because I as her mother love her and am trying to direct her to the good that will come from eating a nutritionally balanced meal which helps her grow big and healthy and strong. Sammi only hears 'No.'
Sometimes when I ask God for something, He says no because it is not healthy for me in the big picture. I only hear 'No.' And then... Wah! Boo hoo hoo! What I need to hear is 'I love you. This is not my plan for you. I want to redirect you to the path that will help you grow big and healthy and strong.'
So my new prayer tactic? Pray for everything. Pray multiple times for the things that matter most to me. Praise God when the answer is 'yes'--because He is the giver of all good things. Praise God when the answer is 'no'--because that means there is something better waiting for me.