A devotion in Streams in the Desert is the basis for today’s post. The first line says, “Often it is simply the answers to our prayers that cause many of the difficulties in the Christian life.”
Think about that statement for a moment, won’t you?
After considering the thought, do you agree? On the surface, it might make us question praying at all if praying leads to difficulties.
However, looking at the statement closer, it really makes sense.
If our goal is to become more and more like Christ, then the things in us which aren’t Christ-like need to be removed. I don’t know about you, but it has been my experience that this removal process often causes discomfort.
We pray for patience…God sends situations into our lives that push us to our limit.
We pray to be unselfish…God presents opportunities to sacrifice for others.
We pray for humility…and as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12, God sends a “messenger from Satan” to beat us up and keep us from becoming too proud.
We pray for increased faith…God tests our faith and dependence on him to the point of breaking.
We pray for gentleness…God sends situations which make us want to respond harshly.
We pray for a loving spirit…God sends the most annoying people ever into our lives.
We pray for peace…God sends storms which threaten to pull us under.
When we pray, we can be assured nothing reaches us our Loving Father didn’t plan or permit. And in the planning and permitting, God desires our best in his answers to our prayers.
Even when he answers in ways which are difficult.
I believe this poem by Annie Johnson Flint sums it all up.
Better Than My Best
Annie Johnson Flint
I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.
I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.
I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and perfect peace I knew.
I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
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But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:25-28 (NIV)
I wish you well.
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