When I was a little girl, one of my FAVORITE days of the year was the day the Sear’s Christmas Wish Book arrived! Nothing was more exciting than going through that book from front-to-back, and then again from back-to-front, making notes of all the shiny new things my little heart ached for.
(copyright Sears, Roebuck, & Company)
I’d spend days and days making and remaking my wish list for Santa, erasing then re-adding items back in, only to scratch them off again as soon as something shinier and bigger was found on a subsequent page.
Finally, list colored and detailed to the greatest of degrees, I’d head off to the mailbox and drop my envelope addressed to the Big Jolly Man Up North inside (without my parents noticing, of course – had to make sure Santa was actually real, you know).
And then, I’d wait. And wait. And wait. For what was sure to be THE BEST Christmas ever.
Ohhhh, and I’d “pray” a lot, too. You know: “GOD!!! You must make sure Santa brings me Chatty Cathy! I’ll just die if I don’t get her for Christmas! She’s on page 245 of the Sears Wishbook, in case you need to know the EXACT one I’m talking about!” And, “Lord, I NEED that potholder making kit on page 230 – I’ll be the absolute laughing stock of 2nd grade if you don’t tell him to bring me that, too!”
And the thing was, Christmas morning would come and I’d receive a few things off that list, but certainly not everything. And (if I can be honest) sometimes, as a naïve little girl, I was pretty disappointed.
Disappointed that the very THING that I just KNEW would make me the “happiest”, “prettiest”, “most envied”, “bestest” kid around wasn’t delivered, even after I spent all that time wishing and “praying” for it.
What was Santa thinking?!
Better yet – what was GOD thinking???!!!
Well, He was probably thinking my parents would’ve blown through any savings they’d managed to sock away that year if they foolishly gave into my childish whims. He was probably thinking, “This girl needs to grow a spirit of generosity and gratitude, not of selfish gluttony”. And no doubt He was thinking, “I can’t wait for her to write a blog about this 40 years from now…!” 😉
You may have heard me say before that wishes are not the same thing as prayers. And the truth of the matter is that neither one has to be “granted” or answered in the way in which we have asked it. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9? (Hint: His ways are higher than our ways, my dears.)
Don’t misunderstand me. Any honest, heart-felt prayer that has a reason for being can truly be brought to God. Just doesn’t mean that God has to answer it in the way it’s been prayed. Prayer isn’t a wish list – it’s an opportunity for soul growth.
When we earnestly pray to God, we grow in our relationship with Him. We spend time talking with Him, learning about Him, sharing our life with Him. That’s the miracle of the vertical growth of prayer. When we honestly pray with others, we grow with them, learn about them, share our life AND OUR GOD with them. That’s the miracle that comes with the horizontal growth of prayer.
The more we pray, the more in tune we become to God’s beautiful voice and His sovereign and holy will for this earth. The more we pray, the more in tune we become to the needs of those around us. The more we pray, the more joyful we can be in celebration and praise when those needs have been beautifully met by God.
If we aren’t careful, we begin to look at prayer as some sort of magical, direct line to God to get requests granted the way we want them to go. But honestly, but prayer is a supernatural mystery. God orchestrates healing, creates beauty from ashes, and brings the blessings our minds could never have imagined. Not us.
We cannot possibly know why and how some prayers get answered in the way we ask but other prayers don’t. But what we DO know is that God is good always…always God is good. And we live for that FACT, regardless of the earthly outcome of our human prayers.
The Bible has many directives for us on prayer. But my favorite it this:
God always gives grace, peace, and mercy to those who pray. I encourage you to bring your heart to the “table” of prayer. Watch how fellowship and prayer can change everything and create hope. Participate in the supernatural mystery of prayer that our human minds cannot even remotely begin to fathom.
The true miracle of prayer isn’t necessarily in the answer we expect to come. Instead, it’s in the knitting together of the lives of those who are participating in it. Changing things on the inside and out. Partnering with God, and with one another, so that God’s will is indeed done here, as it is in heaven. AMEN.
Are you following along with our Seeing The Big Picture series this fall?! Click here for everything you need for Week 2, including the link to our song for the week, “Hope Can Change Everything”, by a group of amazing K-Love artists! See you back here next week, when we jump right into our first section of the Book of Romans!
Peace, love, and joy,
Up Next Week: Salutations To You, and You , and YOU!!!!! (Romans Style!)