Have you ever prayed for something or someone and the situation seemed to get worse? With 3 teenagers, or children in general, quarrels are inevitable. They happen often around here. I remember one time two of my kids were arguing. It stopped for a while. During the “peace” I prayed, “Lord, It would be really nice if they could find the good in one another and not bicker so much.” Not 2 minutes later (no joke), they were screaming at each other over some irrelevant issue. “Lord, that’s not what I meant!”
Prayer is powerful. My understanding of that power and realization of the promise of answered prayers have deepened throughout my growth in Christ and has awaken a yearning to draw closer to Him in prayer and to pray boldly.
There are times I think the prayers I’ve lifted up have backfired. They really haven’t. But, my earthly heart and mind feel that I’ve taken a few steps back instead of forward.
Over the last several years, I’ve been running as a source of exercise. I’m not fast and I don’t have the “runner’s glide or grace.” Sometimes or most times, it feels like I’m pounding the pavement! Either way, I’m out there doing something. That’s better than nothing! I have a virtual running partner. We keep each other accountable. We don’t run together, run the same route, run at the same pace or run the same distance. We do let each other know our distance and pace. We cheer each other on. There have been several times I’ve texted and said, “Tell me to go already!” I needed a little shove to get going. We support one another. There are times we both share that we had a hard run, legs were heavy and was slower than we would have liked. We’ve also shared in our personal bests and “high-fived” one another. As our bodies get stronger we push a little harder. During those times, it hurts a little more. Once we have worked through those times, we are stronger and ready to keep moving forward.
The same concept applies to all areas of our lives. When I first thought a prayer “backfired,” it was really a growing pain. Satan will use any way he possibly can to weasel his way into our lives and cause spiritual warfare. Whatever our focus is, whatever our desires are, wherever our hearts are, that is where he attacks. When we give into him (and yes we give in) we become overwhelmed, fearful, anxious and we have the urge to stop praying or run away. I do suggest running. Just run into God’s open arms!
Moment of confession: When the kids kept bickering, I stopped praying because it wasn’t answered in the way I thought it should be answered. Mom guilt settled in. Satan’s way of using my weakness to rage spiritual warfare. I kept praying for my kids, but they were blanket prayers. Keep them safe, protect their hearts and minds, help them to turn to You. These are all prayers that need to be said, and I will continue to pray them. Yet, I allowed being overwhelmed and feeling I didn’t have the strength to handle the spiritual warfare to limit my prayer life. Hear this!! God hears all prayers and knows our hearts and desires. No prayer is unnoticed. There is no such thing as a bad prayer or a perfect prayer. (I’m preaching to myself right here!)
As I have been working through all of this, I sought out some guidance and wisdom. As I sought out God, He encouraged me to reach out to our pastor. I believe He uses all of us to help, encourage and build each other up. So, I went to my pastor. (That’s a little odd for me to say. For 20 years, my late husband filled that role as well. This was new for me. Turning to someone else, completely vulnerable, is hard. Yet God gave me the “push” I needed and I was and still am blessed and thankful.) Anyway, this was not the first time I talked to our pastor about praying for my kids. When I called him (social distancing and all!), he listened as I unloaded, again. The first thing he said was “relax and breathe!” Oh…. oops…. deep breath in and out and maybe a few tears leaked! Another deep breath in and out. We discussed several things I mentioned above and offered additional insight on my personal struggles with spiritual warfare. My biggest struggle is why would I willingly open up myself or open a door for Satan to attack?
Why do I continue to run even though it hurts my 40 something body? Because in the end, I feel so much better; physically and mentally. It’s one of the tools I’m using to be physically healthy.
So why do I continue to pray boldly and tell Satan to get out of here! You have no power over me! (Enter my War Cry!) Time and time again God has proven His presence and strength. Time and time again I thought I had nothing left to give. He gave me just what I needed when I needed it. This is not about me. This is about God’s strength through me to continue on, continue praying when the answers are not what I thought they should be, continue praying when it’s hard and it hurts and the weight of it all is heavy. Just keep praying. “Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!” Jimmy V. God has already won the war! We already know how this ends and we win! As I work through my personal, spiritual growing pains, I am strengthened in His power, wisdom, love, presence, and so much more. I am in a deeper place with God than what I was before. The “growing pains” are worth it.
Once I took several deep breaths and started to relax, our pastor gave me some ideas to start with. (Let me preface this with I pray every day for all my kids. This is more for specific prayers.) I pray God will reveal to me their identity in Him. I ask He will lead me in praying for their future, that they will have His hope as their anchor and that He will reveal the good in them so they can see the good in themselves and others. This may sound simple but it’s loaded with power.
I was making it too hard, complicating it. I had to get myself out of the way, so God could reveal Himself to me. Matthew 18:4 says, “So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Jeremiah 15:19 reminds us to “take out the precious from the vile.” We need to keep our child-like faith as we seek out the preciousness of our children. Therefore, we place them in God’s hands to reveal to us what He has planned for them. His plans and ways are so much better than mine! This all brings me back to the simplicity of our faith. It really isn’t complicated. We make it complicated and try too hard. (Well, I do anyway!)
Father, help me keep it simple, get myself out of the way, and place all that I am and all that I have in Your hands and at Your feet. I love you, Lord. Amen.
Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this together in Him.