These past six months have been a time of intense and expanding prayer for me. I have grown more in my prayer life than I have at any other time in my walk of faith. The biggest change has come in my seeking to hear God’s “yes” to my prayers.
To intercede for others… to seek God’s answers to pressing personal, community, and even world problems… to believe that God has the power to do what we ask is all a real and vital journey. And I would be the first to give witness to the reality that God has answered in specific ways quite specific things I have asked.
But there comes a moment in the journey of prayer when one realizes the “yes” that matters is not God saying “yes.” It is not some slippery slope of seeing prayer as successful or not, It is not in finding some pattern that one believes will force the divine hand. This last one vexes me the most. I catch myself thinking about prayer as technique – if I do X, God will answer. If I say Y, God will respond. Read a few books on prayer and you will understand the allurement.
No, the “yes” that sounds the sweetest is the one echoed in the Lord’s Prayer – “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
This is not resignation to fate (as it can easily be misconstrued). It is rather saying to God “I want this that I am saying… but what do you want for me? I want you to do this… but am I asking you for what you really want to give?”
The genuine divine “yes” comes when we say “yes” to God, to the divine will above all else. I don’t mean to suggest that I am there. I do mean to say that I have discovered a new freedom in seeking to say “yes” – to understand more clearly what God wants for me rather than to keep asking for what I want from God.
I have been praying for a long time for something very important to me. Early this year as I began this journey of prayer God showed me almost immediately that what I was asking God didn’t want to do. To answer me was to deny something better, something more wonderful that I could not imagine possible. Only in the last few weeks has this reality become clearer (more on this another time as it is still unfolding). I have said “yes” to something that I would have once thought was a repudiation of what God wants for me. Arriving at a moment of understanding that I project on God what I want far more than I genuinely want what God wants was a spiritual corner I had to turn.