Friday, April 26, 2013

A Basic Rule for Prayer and Peace

I know that I often write too much, go too deep, turn people away by long treatises.

I won’t do that today.  Instead, I’ll just tell you briefly how I’m learning to pray in a way that brings peace.  If you’ve read my previous series on prayer, you’ll recognize that today’s entry is not a summary, but a perfect fit with what I’ve written before.

A Basic Rule for Prayer

Pray for eternally important end results most of all, but don’t pray for God to use particular methods to achieve that end.  You know the “prayer about methods” that I’m warning against.  It’s the prayer that tells God not to allow anything to “go wrong” as we define it.  “Don’t let life hurt me or my loved ones.”  If that’s your prayer, STOP IT. Or at least offer your request the way Jesus Himself did, "Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done."

You can pray for godly ends with absolute confidence, because you know that those are God's will.  But face it, you do not know the best means for Him to use in any given person's life.  If you acknowledge that fact, and truly trust God to know best, then you can be prepared to joyfully cooperate with Him even when He brings pain, suffering, deprivation, or disappointment into your life or the life of a loved one.  

And because your prayer priority is for a closer walk with God by grace, evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit, you will know what "cooperating with Him" will look like.  It will look like drawing close to Him, peacefully submitting to Him, and cultivating the Fruit in your life and in your relationships with others.  This is a peaceful life.

But if you insist on telling God how to do His job, you will inevitably be disappointed (and probably angry) when He insists on continuing to be God instead of deferring that role to you.  You will panic when He makes the “mistake” of bringing suffering into your life or your loved ones' lives, and will feel that you have to take matters into your own more capable and knowledgeable hands.
This is a faithless and chaotic life.

Trust Him.  Agree with Him about the Big Picture, the top priorities.  Then trust Him to know how to bring them about in the way He knows best.  The God who planned Calvary knows how to redeem suffering to bring about ultimate good.

Trust Him, leave it to Him, cooperate with Him, love Him, love your neighbor.  Know peace.
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