Lately I’ve been struggling to pray for things I want. It is easy to pray for others and their various intentions, but praying for what I want is increasingly difficult.
Above all, I want God’s will to be done in my life. But what if what I think I want isn’t what I think God is calling me to? Can I pray for the thing I want anyway? And if God already knows what I want – even if what I want is a battle between His will and mine – then why bother praying for what I want?
Ultimately we don’t pray to change God’s mind or His will. Prayer, instead, changes us. By praying through my desires I can better understand the reasons I want (or don’t want) various things in my life. As I pray through my desires, I come to know the heart of God, and surrender – though difficult – becomes easier.
If, however, I don’t pray through my desires, nor do I bring my desires to God, then I end up being increasingly stubborn, holding on to what I want as I refuse to listen to God’s movements in my prayer. Rather than open myself to His voice – which may even be in line with my own desires – I shut myself off by refusing to ask Him what His desire is. Does He want what I want? Is His will in line with my heart? Maybe the answer is yes, but maybe the answer is no. It is the possibility that God’s will isn’t necessarily what I think I want in my life that keeps me from really diving into prayer.
Then, as usual, I look to Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane He didn’t shy away from asking God for what He (Jesus) wanted. Jesus prayed for the cup to pass from Him. He prayed to not have to undergo the Passion and all of the torture and humiliation that was coming His way. But in the end, as we all should, He prayed for the Father’s will to be done. So if you are like me, a bit (or a lot) timid about asking God for what you really want for fear that He might say “no” or “not right now” – follow Jesus’ example: ask, then surrender. If you don’t ask the question, you’ll never know His answer.