Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Are You Praying For, God or Yourself?

I've been going through a tough time emotionally, mentally, spiritually and financially and realized after reading  The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning (for the second time) that my circumstances may have something to do with my prayers. I have been told many times that God always answers prayers. Today I learned more deeply that God does answer our prayers, but not always in the ways we would choose, and that I am not a failure because I suffer and experience tough circumstances.

In his book, Manning shares that we may go through a period of darkness and that we should embrace it because this may be God's way of answering our prayers. We may have prayed for greater trust in Him, humility or greater faith. To answer us, God may lead us through circumstances that are beyond our control so that we may come to realize exactly who we are - saved sinners dependent upon Him for endurance, provision, safe-keeping and rest.

Reflecting on this discovery, I posed Manning's questions - do I want what God can give me when I pray or do I want God Himself? My soul says more of God, but my worldly understanding of my circumstances says I need to survive in this world. I should ask for what He can provide with only a smidgen of Himself which is all I can handle. I can't handle or serve both.

When I choose to follow the longing in my soul and I ask for more of Him, I sometimes experience loneliness or isolation because I forget that more of Him means substitutes have to go. I have to let go to receive. I can't hold on to all that I think I need to fulfill me and grab onto the One who can be everything to me. Room needs to be made or chaos and tension result. When I choose what He can give me, I am never satisfied. Something is always wrong or not enough and the desire remains insatiable. Do I want tension, chaos and anger or do I want the peace that comes from choosing Him? His peace may not make sense in the midst of trials, but in Him I can let go of the tension, chaos and anger. Why carry all that and your circumstances? Why carry any of it at all?

As you lift up prayers to God today, ask yourself, "Am I seeking Him for Him, or am I seeking Him for what He can do for me?"