Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The conversation matters more than the outcome.....

"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room....."
"Pray in this way: Your will be done....."
"All things for which you pray and ask,
believe that you have received them,
and they will be granted you....."
"With all prayer and petition
pray at all times in the Spirit....."
"Pray without ceasing....."
"Is anyone among you suffering?
Then he must pray....."
"Is anyone among you sick?
Then he must call for the elders of the church
and they are to pray over him,
anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord....."
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another,
and pray for one another
so that you may be healed....."
"Beloved, I pray that in all respects
you may prosper and be in good health,
just as your soul prospers."

The Gospels and Epistles

I don't know one person who, having earnestly prayed for something at one time or another, hasn't been met with silence.  Seemingly unanswered prayer.  Why is that?

I have been working this through as we have prayed and prayed for answers to what is wrong with me.  I know He knows, but He isn't telling right now.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.

Okay.  So what do I do with that?

In His mercy, He has dropped a lot of words in front of me in the past months about this:

~ The book of Job. (Yeah, what do I know?  I'm right there with him.)

~ "Lord, the one You love is sick."  (about which I blogged recently.)

~ The difference between Religion and The Gospel, (a collection of comparisons sent to me in an email):
 With Religion: My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need.  My main purpose in prayer is control of the (my) environment.
With the Gospel: My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration.  My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

~ And then I came across an amazing piece by Julia Attaway, a contributor to Daily Guideposts, that has had a tremendous impact on me.  I am including here a small part of the lengthy piece.  I highly recommend reading the whole thing here.  For a little background, they have a son who has chronic anxiety and this piece starts with her challenges in parenting a little one with such struggles.

"One night in desperation I finally cried out, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Much to my surprise I got an answer right away, quiet but clear as a bell. “Pray and suffer.” 


Pray and suffer.

It wasn’t on the list of things I’d hoped for, or even on the waiting list. However, it made infinite sense. I’d been praying: for John’s problems to go away, for superhuman competence, for the grace to master my frustration. I winced as my brain slowly circled the idea that learning to live with not getting what I thought I needed could be part of my cross. If so, I’d been fighting it as much as I’d been fighting the turmoil that had been thrust into my life.
Pray and suffer. Why not? There are worse things to learn to do graciously. If we are to trust God in anything at all, it’s absolutely essential that we trust He will work through any and all circumstances to draw us closer to His son. The cross doesn’t teach us that God will keep us safe from the Boogie Man. It shows us that what we cannot endure alone, we can endure with God, for the love of God.....

And this is mature trust: we know God can save us from the fire, but we choose to worship Him whether He saves us or not. God is God, and worthy of being served for that reason alone. To grow up in faith means we move beyond thinking about what God can do for us, and rest in who God is. It means we pray without ceasing because the conversation matters more to us than the outcome.  And it means that we accept the times we get no answer to prayer, because we want His will more than we want whatever we’re asking for."
 copyright 2011 Julia Attaway

So, here's where I am when contemplating my question "So, what do I do with that?"

~ Realize I don't know squat.  (Just like Job.)
~ Understand that it isn't my purpose to control my environment.  (It's to fellowship with Him.) 
~ Communicate in faith and trust. ("Lord, the one You love is sick. You are sovereign and I leave it with you, offering no ideas for how You might answer.")
~ Pray and suffer.  (He did.)
~ Come to the place that the conversation matters more to me than the outcome. (Wow)

Maybe I'm getting it a little bit.  It's relationship He's after.  And I have a long way to go.

It may be quiet around here for awhile yet.


  1. One of my favorite lines I get to say every time I perform "The Story of Gomer" is this:
    "...all I ever cared about was what he could do for me, I was consumed with myself. If ever my selfish needs were not met, I strayed away. I only loved him when he was making me feel good about myself...now I realize, it was never about what he could do for me, but only about who he was. And I couldn't even see who he was until I got myself out of the way."
    I love this, and I want to say this wholeheartedly in my own life, but I am far from it. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Much love from my family to yours!

  2. Thanks, Em. Oh, I love those lines! So awesome. And I so look forward to the day that I get to see and hear you perform them.