I have been thinking today about a very frustrating realization in my spiritual life: I am afraid to pray. I mean, I often pray for my husband, children, family and friends. But I am afraid to ask God for things because I am afraid He will give me the opposite. I am afraid of what He will give.
Why do I feel this way?
As I contemplated this, I thought of all the church groups I have attended where something like this was said:
"I wish my kids would just stay little."
"Be careful what you pray for. I know someone whose little boy never developed past the mentality of a five year old. She will have a little boy for his whole life. Is this what you want?"
I'm actually serious.
I've heard people ask for prayer for patience with their kids, only to be warned about all the awful things that God might allow to happen to them in order to teach them patience. Like sending their husband to Iraq, twice. Because apparently desperation makes a fertile teaching ground for patience.
I know, I sound bitter. Maybe I am. Because I really hate the idea of God purposely picking the most difficult and stressful situations for you to live through in order to supposedly answer your prayers.
This poem is my all time favorite. You've probably heard it, or some form of it, before:
The Answered Prayer
I asked for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for,
but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself,
my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed!
~Unknown Confederate soldier~
Now, granted, I believe the Bible teaches God does not answer our prayers when we ask amiss. But doesn't it also teach Jesus wants to give good things to His children? And that we should not be afraid to ask Him?
Maybe this is just spiritual baggage speaking. I know God works in mysterious ways. But this has literally made me afraid to pray sometimes. And I know I am not the only one, because I have actually listened to my friends struggle to dedicate their all to God, because they were afraid He might take them up on their offer and take their kids. The proverbial Isaac on the altar.
I know we need to trust He has our best in mind. That we can trust the contents of our hearts and lives to Him. I want to. I am reaching....
Does anyone else out there struggle with this?
(No flames please.)