One of my biggest pet peeves is the preaching of the “Prosperity Gospel.” To summarize, prosperity gospel boils down to this: if you believe in God, He will bless you and give you everything you pray for. Here’s the kicker with that: what if the answer to your prayer is, “no.” What happens if your faith is based on the idea that God is a genie who is going to grant your every wish? What happens when you pray for a giant house and nice cars and you never get them? Does that mean that God isn’t real? You can see how damaging this mindset can be, however, there are hundreds of churches in America perpetuating this idea.
*deep breath* But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. For the longest time, I struggled with my prayer life because I felt guilty for asking for things from God. When I prayed, I didn’t want God to think I was only talking to Him because I wanted Him to give me stuff I wanted. Due to this mind set, I stopped praying all together for a while. Looking back, I think to myself, “Wow, that was a super bonkers way of dealing with this issue.” But y’all, it was a struggle, especially during my early years of high school.
Fast forward to the year before I transferred to Missouri Western. I was at a loss. The plans I had been holding onto with an iron grip had dissolved completely. I was back to square one and needed to figure out where I was going to school. I remember having a conversation with a friend about my dilemma and they asked about how I was praying about the situation. I answered, “I mean, I’m praying about it.” Their response was, “But how are you praying?” It was here that I realized that while I had begun asking for things in my prayers again, I was being very passive about it. I began to pray specifically. I prayed for clarity, peace and understanding for the future. Sure enough, as I began to pray this way, the decision making process became so much easier. Yes, I still had to make difficult choices, but the more I was in tune with asking God for insight as to what is the best option the more clear things became.
I very recently went to visit a potential grad school with Sweet Ben. It was a trip that we have been planning for months and over the last few weeks, I began to try and scare myself out of going through with it. As the time came closer to make the huge trek down to Texas, I prayed, “Lord, give us obvious ‘yeses’ or ‘nos’ on this trip. If this is not where we are supposed to be headed, put up a gigantic road block for us.” Over the course of the beautiful day of visiting the school, we were encouraged by several faculty members and two grad students who were assigned to get to know us. We discovered that the two students were Christians and were able to find out about the fairly large faith-based population in the department. On top of all of this, Ben and I stayed with one of my mom’s cousins and her family, which was an absolute joy. Knowing that there is a community of family and soon-to-be friends at a school that has the sort of education we are looking for was a huge answer to prayer. There was a huge sense of peace driving back to Kansas City. Before heading out of town, we stopped at a local coffee shop and I sat there with an overwhelming feeling of being at home. While we haven’t been accepted to the grad program yet and there is still some fogginess about the future, I was confident that our prayers had been answered.
Shocker to Past Abby: it is totally acceptable to pray for what you want! James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.” God wants to bless us. He has a huge desire to lavish His love over us. He is a good Father who is waiting to hear from us. Now, is he just a wish-granting factory? No. However, He’s the Dad that wants to give His kids the best He has to offer. This is why sometimes the answer is “no.” There was a time a few semesters ago that I was praying desperately for a job that would help relieve a huge financial burden that I ended up not getting. I was upset for a while, until I realized that the job would have taken up a lot of physical and mental energy that I did not have to spare. I am now grateful that I was protected from that job, even though it seemed like a great thing at the time that I was applying for. I write this to encourage you to pray specifically for what is on your heart. Pray with boldness and humility. Pray with the knowledge that God will answer, and pray for the wisdom to hear His response with an open heart.
Until Next Time,