“What we usually pray to God is not that His will be done, but that He approves ours.” – Helga Bergold Gross
I came across this quote in the 1998 release of the Reader’s Digest “Quotable Quotes” book. This thought had never really occurred to me; after thinking about my prayer life and the content of most of my chats with God, I have realized one major thing: when I ask for something, it is not that His will be done…it’s a question of approval of the decision(s) I intend to make. This disturbs me. Granted, when it comes to other people’s lives and the prayers I make for them, I almost always ask for His will. Not for myself though. It’s almost as if I delay praying until after I’ve decided what I want to do.
So, my question is: when should I be praying to ensure I am seeking His will, not just His approval? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Then all these things will be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33). “Delight yourself with the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4). I was raised to be aware of my identity in Christ. Although I am not entirely there, I have a few basic understandings: (1) I am a daughter of the Most High God, a branch grafted into the vine, adopted into the Kingdom of the Everlasting; (2) I will never be able to obtain the right to be loved by God, yet He chose to give me love unconditionally, not matter how many horrible things I do, say, or think; (3) I am fearfully and wonderfully made, God knows the number of hairs on my head, and He knit me together in my mother’s womb; and, (4) every act of kindness, gentleness, love, peace, patience, self-control, and other fruit of the spirit is my love language to Him.
With this knowledge, I know that whatever He has planned for my life (be it blessing, trial, joy, or hardship) is the greatest gift He could give me. It also means I can be the greatest gift to those in my life. So, why then do I not first ask Him what kind of decisions or directions I could go to, not asking Him if the decision I am going to make is ok with Him? I somewhat pride myself on having great foresight…thinking back, I’ve been completely short-sighted a lot of the time!
All that being said, God gave me free will. I have the choice to walk through open doors of opportunity, search for and open doors or windows I really want, or just simply break into places that, quite honestly, should have stayed foreign to me. He’s used all of my choices to bring me to where I am today, and I am extremely grateful He did not give up on me, even when I chose to ignore Him or out-right defy Him. In each of these places, He’s allowed me to influence and be influenced for good, and – I’m sorry to say – for bad. The price we pay for decision making. And He will never re-neg on that promise.
Anyways, what I am thinking is this: go one week of saying a short prayer pre-decision-making and giving a short period of time to listen – I mean, really listen to the spirit – before going ahead and choosing something. Now, each person hears the Lord differently and uniquely (just as uniquely as He made us). What I am hoping to discover is an open doorway of conversation with God, where He speaks into my life and helps me become the person I was made to be. Could you imagine the outcome of doing things God’s way (the perfect, unconditional, righteous way)? Oh, how exciting of a prospect is that!? Not only for myself, but for everyone in my life! Maybe that’s what it means to “walk the straight and narrow.”