I was restless. Many thoughts bouncing from one side of my head to the other, colliding and creating more thoughts. Silently, I watched the Black-Capped Chickadees dash across the yard into the white spruce right outside the window, their quickness mimicking the questions and fears racing through my mind.
How do you keep bringing your broken heart before the God who allowed it to be shattered?
That’s what I found myself wondering. It just seems easier to keep our distance and bury our longings in the tomb with all that’s been lost.
The Idol of Self-Protection
Praying for things we desire comes naturally for many people but for me, it’s a struggle. I fear my heart’s quick reaction to such prayers—how it turns my requests into idols. I don’t want to desire the created thing more than the Creator, so I don’t ask. But in not taking my supplications to him, I keep back a part of my heart from him, and therefore, provide fresh soil for the roots of another idol to deepen.
My “good” theology morphs into self-protection. You see, if I don’t ask for a baby, if a single gal doesn’t ask for a husband, or a cancer patient doesn’t ask for healing, maybe it won’t hurt as much if God doesn’t fulfill that desire. Sometimes praying “thy will be done” becomes a cover-up for “I’m too scared to ask” revealing the underlying disbelief in a heart.
The Good God Who Withholds
We struggle to believe God could withhold something good we’ve asked for and still be good himself. But we forget he withholds no good thing from his children (Psalm 84:11). Truly, he knows best. And because he is perfectly wise, good, and sovereign, we can trust he will always choose what’s best for us. Sometimes, that isn’t the “good” thing we hoped for because he has something better.
So often, we have our earthly good in mind, but our Good Father never loses sight of the thing which will cause us to be most blessed, that is, Christlikeness—our eternal good.
An Act of Faith
Many times our prayer for God’s will to be done becomes a way to dodge the discomfort of pouring our heart out before the Lord. For some, it’s an act of faith to pray “your will be done, Lord” while others have to step out in faith to utter the words “please, Lord.”
I’m scared to ask God for what he may not give. I have enough biblical knowledge to know I’m not promised a baby we can raise. Promises like that were given to Abraham and Sarah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, but not to Jim and Brittany Allen. I know that in his goodness, God many times withholds what we long for. Which is why it becomes an act of faith to ask.
Instead of clinging to my heart, trying to protect myself from the possible blow of God’s “no”, I lay it bare and exposed before him and echo Hannah’s prayer in her distress…
“O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life.” (1 Samuel 1:11 ESV)
Hannah had not been promised a child. But that didn’t stop her from pouring out her soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15). She bowed down before her heavenly Father and cried sorrowful tears at his feet and asked. She didn’t add a quick “if it be your will” before her request. She simply asked. Just as a daughter would ask her father.
Because he is our Father, we must trust him to decide what is truly good for us. This is where faith comes into play. This is where surpassing peace can be found. At the feet of our loving Father.
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 ESV)
Let us pour our hearts out before God and ask for what we desire. But let us always do so with a humble heart, knowing he knows best and will do no other.