Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Prayer and Breathing

In case you have missed it, there is quite a controversy at Wheaton College, a place near and dear to my heart. It has been heavy on my heart because of the hateful backlash, some of it aimed at my brother, and because many of the arguments feel to me like an attack on God himself, and that breaks my heart.

I am not here to debate the issues. Smart people say it is complicated and nuanced, and just because the heart of the issue seems very un-complicated to me does not mean that I am right. But the whole thing has taught me a lot about prayer.

When I am so burdened by something that it distracts me from my work or wakes me up at night, I can either fret and worry, or I can pray. At times like this prayer becomes so constant it's like breathing. Sometimes all I pray is "Lord, have mercy, have mercy." Sometimes I pray for specific things, but as I've gotten older my prayers are a lot less about what I think ought to happen, or what I want to happen, and a lot more "your will be done." You see, I've experienced enough of life to realize that God's ways are always best. No exceptions. Even when his ways are devastating this side of heaven. And I know that he always answers the prayer "your will be done."

I see the nuances of life and realize that in every single situation I am concerned about--even the ones that are about me--I don't know all the information. But God does. So I can trust him to know what to do. Prayer for me is like climbing into God's lap and handing my worries and problems back to him. Sure, I ask him to show me if there is something I need to do, either to be an instrument in fixing the problem or to take care of myself so I can sense his love for me. But pretty much, for me these days prayer is me saying, "God, this seems like a big thing to me. Can you fix it in your way? And make my thoughts and priorities concerning this matter match yours."

More specifically, I pray God things. Help the people involved to grow in grace, unity, love, and all the other fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Scripture. Help us to trust you more. Help us to grow. Redeem this situation so that you are glorified. Don't let Satan win this one. Let truth win, whatever the truth is. These things God loves to answer. And these are things that Christians on both sides of any disagreement ought to be able to pray together. We're all on God's side, right? So we all want his purposes to prevail. Let's pray for that.

I've also noticed my prayers are a little less impatient than they used to be. Nothing is an emergency or a surprise to God. I'd love to see every problem resolved on my timetable, but I see more and more that sometimes the waiting and the struggle are the point. In this particular case, I think many more people are fervently praying for Wheaton than were a month ago. And that's a good thing. So while I'd love to see this resolved now--like, this minute please--I'd even more love to let God do his thing. And sometimes that takes a while.

So I'm settling in, getting comfortable on God's lap, and planning to stay here for the duration. Won't you join me?

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