I want to be completely open and honest with you about something. This is hard for me to admit, but I have a problem and it’s time I come clean. Ok, here it goes… *takes a deep breath*… I change my mind. A lot. Please, do not make me make a decision! I can’t handle it. I get all nervous and my palms start sweating. Where should we go for dinner? I don’t know! Please, ask someone else! What should I wear to Becky’s graduation party? Ahhh! So many options! Can’t…choose… (The preceding has been an overly dramatic depiction of Amy’s thought processes when she is faced with a decision. The names have not been changed to protect anyone.)
Why do I have such a hard time making a decision? Actually, the answer is quite simple: I don’t want to be wrong. If I choose where we’re going for dinner, I might choose something you don’t like. If I wear a skirt to the party, what if everyone else is wearing jeans? I hear those of you who are saying that my reasoning is shallow and I should just get over it. But I know I’m not alone in this. I know I am not the only one who changes her mind (and her outfit) at least 3 times every Sunday morning. I’m just the only one admitting it right now. Ah, to be God and never have to change my mind about anything…what bliss that would be!
“But wait!” you say, “if God never changes His mind about anything, why do we bother praying for Him to [fill in the blank]?” Yes, that is the dilemma of prayer, isn’t it? If God already knows what He’s going to do, why should we bother praying about anything? There are a number of different answers to that age-old question, but today, I want to look at just one of them (mostly because I just don’t want to be typing for the rest of the night).
The other day, I asked if you had a favorite book on prayer. Well, I have two of them. The reason they are my favorites is because they are the two that have had the biggest impact on the way I pray. The first is John Eldredge’s Walking with God. My dad gave me this book a couple of years ago and it opened up a whole new world of prayer for me. Now, instead of just telling God what I want, or even praying “Your will be done”, I often ask Him specifically what I should do or even how I should pray – and then I take the time to listen for His answer. It’s that last part that has been the biggest change in my prayers.
The second book I’ve read multiple times is Philip Yancey’s Prayer. I’m not going to go too far in depth, but this was the book I read when I was getting pretty close to the end of the proverbial rope this past year. I’d been begging and pleading with God to do something for me. In fact, I’d been praying about it for so long that I became obsessed with it – I could pray about nothing else. It was this quote, though not directly related to my prayer problem, that got my attention and refocused me: “The very process of “wasting time” with God changes me on the inside. A child does not decide, “I think I will imitate Dad”, and then go about practicing posture, mannerisms and voice inflections that bear an uncanny resemblance to his dad. He absorbs family traits unconsciously, by sustained contact.”
That hit me pretty hard. I realized I had limited prayer to its lowest common denominator – asking God for something. I stopped seeing it as time spent with my Father. I stopped seeing it as an opportunity to get to know Him better and to learn to be like Him. I stopped seeing it as a way to be in relationship with Him – the very reason I was created. There is evidence in the Bible that prayer can, in fact, change God’s mind (see 2 Kings 20:1-11 for perhaps the most famous example). But more and more, I’m finding that instead of changing God, prayer changes me. And that, I think, may be the point.
Has your prayer life ever been rocked by God? What to you, is the most important aspect of prayer right now?