Praying For The Right Thing

Does God always answer our prayers? It is a question that begs an answer. How can it be that the abused who seeks respite from his or her condition through prayer for years receives no relief?

Is it that God is not listening, does not care, or wishes for the abused to remain in their terrible condition? Or maybe none of those is correct. Maybe He is answering our prayers, but not the way we expect.

In the midst of ongoing heartache, for many years the consistent, intentional prayer of my heart was that God would open the eyes of my abusive spouse and restore our relationship to wholeness. Now the Word says that if I “have the faith of a mustard seed,” the mountain will be moved. So I prayed for more faith. And because Paul wrote that, “love never fails,” I prayed that God would make me more loving. I also believed that my prayer would eventually win the day because, “the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” And in His miraculous name, I anticipated the ultimate, favorable answer to the singular cry of my heart: “Lord, save our marriage.”

As the days and years passed, our home life not only did not improve, it became increasingly worse. Looking back, I wonder if the Lord intended to supply an answer, but what He sought to offer me was an answer to a prayer I had never prayed. For there was another Scripture that had escaped my notice. It is the prayer with a promise. It does not promise to move mountains, but insists that if I petition for understanding, it will be given.

James 1:5 “If any man lacks wisdom let Him ask of God who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

All that time my prayers were not centered on discovering wisdom, but on demanding a predetermined outcome. Looking back, I am certain God was willing to speak to me, but I was expecting Him to have a chat with my husband! I wonder how many times His Spirit had been waiting for me to wait on Him.

There were desperate moments when I sought Him and then listened, really listened. It was in those moments that I heard the wisdom of the ages whisper into my spirit, and the voice never once told me what I should tell my wayward husband to do. The impressions He left were meant for me – a directive to act upon, a timely affirmation, a heavenly promise. And isn’t that what I really wanted after all: to know that He was aware of my situation and was still moving in my life?

In the end, it may not matter how honorable my intentions are; I have no assurance that my words, my faith or my behavior will afford me the power to sway the will or soften the hardened heart of another. It is my heart I need to worry about. If I listen and follow the sound of His voice, He will take care of the rest. I have seen it happen. I know it is so.

I still talk to God, but I am less focused on what I might see and more interested in what I might hear. I want to be a vessel open to being filled up with whatever measure of wisdom He is willing to impart into this little life of mine. Who am I, after all, that He would speak to me at all? When He does, I only hope that I am listening.

The Lord confides in those who fear him; He makes his covenant known to them. My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare. Psalm 25:14-15

Cindy Burrell

copyright @ 2012 all rights reserved

4 thoughts on “Praying For The Right Thing”

  1. Cindy,

    You have discovered a wonderful way that God communicates with us. I too am struggling to know His will and listen to His voice. When I was a young man God honored my simple faith be speaking to me in ways that I could understand. I told Him at that time that I did now want to find myself out of His will because of a communication barrier. I asked him to speak to me in ways that I could understand. If I needed more information to make a decsion, He was gracious enough give me more information, sometime in spectacular ways. Many times he would give me direction through a remembered Bible text. Sometimes he would speak through other people in ways that I WOULD RECOGNIZE his voice in their comments. I have had strangers who were unaware of who I was and certainly did not know what I was asking God for, provide clear answers to my prayer request. I made a commitment to God that I was willing to do His will but I had to understand clearly what it was and left it with Him to made things plain. The Bible was my study for the overall will of God and I would of course discern and refuse to violate the principles in His word. Who to marry, going to teach in Indonesia were the result of His specific will which he provided ample evidence that left no doubt in my mind what His will was.

    1. You are so right. There are countless ways the Lord can speak to us – if we are listening. What an incredible gift – to enjoy a relationship with the King of the Universe.

      Thanks for sharing.


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