I stood at my window resisting the urge to pray. The clock said 12:55. My friend’s birthday party was at 1:30. Would the gift arrive on time? I assumed God’s concerns about its delayed arrival were rather low, but I decided I couldn’t sit idly by. I had to get involved in pushing this thing forward. So, I prayed.
Dear God, please cause abundant favor in the turning of every traffic light to the brightest shade of green. Part the red sea of traffic, overcome the enormous mountain of time, and please, in the name of Jesus, don’t let a single turtle decide to cross the street on my driver’s route. Lord, I need to see that blue and black Prime tape and I need to see it quick. Please make that glorious cardboard box appear. Yes, the one that encloses a gift I was too forgetful to shop for earlier in the week. Please Lord, have mercy and make Amazon hurry up.
It was 1:15. Time to go. I breathed in one last breath, exhaled one last prayer and I looked outside. Nothing. Only a lonely welcome mat. Had God not heard my prayers?
Perhaps he had heard them but was too busy healing a child, or saving a marriage, or providing clean water for an impoverished community. Who knows?
But, I mean, we’re supposed to pray for everything, right? No request too small or too big. If it’s important to me, isn’t it important to him? As I drove to the party praying for a good parking spot, I started to wonder: What exactly is the status of my prayer life? I began amassing examples of the most common things I pray for.
A few came to mind.
For parking spots. Constantly. Lord, give me that front row, easy in, easy out, top of the line parking spot. Sprinkle it with gold dust if you can so I know it’s the one from you.
For my kids to fall back asleep on their own when they wake up crying at three in the morning. Lord, please comfort my child like a warm wool blanket and allow the sound of his own shrill cry to lull him back to sleep. Pretty please?
For the Internet to hurry up. Lord, you brought me to this coffee shop for a reason, I just know it. If the Internet lag is because the cloud coverage is spotty or someone didn’t pay a bill, please work a miracle and work it quick.
For Joanna Gaines to come flip my house. Lord, only you know my deepest need for design wisdom. You know my heart when it comes to desiring perfect room flow and for someone to tell me what to do with my mirrors. Please, send Jo, Lord. Chip can come, too. Even a pig from her farm. Whoever she wants. Amen.
Me, Myself, and I
Oddly enough, the more I investigated what motivates my prayer life, the more I recognized the flaw.
I pray so often for space. For quiet. For peace. I pray for courage and discipline. I ask the Lord to give me what I need to be a better reflection of Christ in my community. I’m in constant communication with my creator but I fear that every prayer has one thing at the center of it: me. I need my sleep, my parking spot for convenience, the Internet to run faster so I can be more efficient. I need JoJo because I need my life to look more stylish.
And yet, when I envision Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying—sweating like drops of blood—I just can’t see him praying for his own convenience or comfort. He wasn’t asking for the closest place to tie his donkey or wheels to ease the weight of the cross he was about to carry to his death.
He prayed the words we know all too well: “Not my will, but yours be done.”
What an interesting filter to sort your prayers through. Granted, Jesus didn’t live in this technology-driven, anxiety-producing time we live in now. He never knew the torture of waiting for a van to show up with a gift after receiving the notification that it was “out for delivery.” No, Jesus never experienced the inconsequential moments of today. In fact, his gifts were ones that could heal a person or raise a child from the dead, so he didn’t need to call on God to make Amazon hurry up. Instead, he called on God to ensure his plan would be fulfilled, even though it meant that Jesus would be the sacrifice. Christ had more to lose than we have to offer, and yet, he never prayed for his own gain.
Seems that we have a choice to make and a question to ask ourselves each time we pray: Whose will is at the center of this prayer?
My will, Lord? No. No more.
Only yours be done.