February 1, 2021
By Carol Joseph
Spend time with any parent of a toddler and sooner or later, you’ll hear a conversation that goes something like this:
Toddler: I want a cookie
Parent: How do you ask?
Toddler: I want a cookie, please.
As adults, we know enough to ask politely for things that we want, in our secular life and our prayer life. As we grow in our faith, we learn to replace the mandatory “please” with “If it’s your will, God.”
“If it’s your will God, I want a new car/boyfriend/job/healing/the hurt to go away/life to go back to normal, please.”
But I wonder, do adding these words to our prayer requests really reflect a heart for Jesus? Do we truly want God’s will to be done or are we simply being spiritually correct and well-mannered in asking for what we want? I know that when my heart is truly aligned with Jesus, it not only changes the way I ask for things but also what I ask for and the manner in which I accept His answers to my prayers.
A few years ago, I was working in a lucrative, but high-pressure job. My company had gone through numerous leadership changes and with each change came new levels of stress and increased workloads which required me to work late nights, weekends and holidays.
After returning from a much-needed vacation, I spent some in my prayer journal getting real with God. I questioned whether it was possible for me to be successful at my job without being consumed by it. I also asked that if this was where He wanted me—if this was His will for me, that He show me how to find some much-needed balance in my life.
That very same day, my prayer was answered: I was laid off. It was something I didn’t see coming because I had been so busy working, but something I was immediately at peace with.
After calmly telling my husband the news, I shared that morning’s journal entry with him. As I read my prayer aloud, we both sat with tears streaming down our faces, in awe of God’s wisdom, goodness and glory.
When we truly invite God into our lives and trust in His will for us, it changes everything. A situation that could have been filled with worry and angst—my husband and I both out of work just months before our daughter’s wedding—was instead filled with hope and joyful anticipation of what God had in store for us.
Because I felt strongly that God was leading me toward something, I was able to resist the urge to immediately start looking for another job. Instead, I used that time to rest, connect with God and wait. That period of waiting turned out to be an extraordinary time in my life; a rare instance where I was at peace with not having a plan and trusting our futures to God. Because while neither my husband nor I were working, God was working wonders in our lives, healing old hurts, bringing us closer to each other and to Him and preparing us for the next chapter of our lives.
Six months later, and within weeks of each other, my husband and I both found jobs. Jobs that we never imagined ourselves doing, but which turned out to be perfect for each of us– he working for a non-profit, me as a freelance writer.
Jesus promises that whatever we ask for in His name, He will give us. (John 14:13-14) But He’s talking about more than just about the words we use; He’s talking about where our hearts are and who we place our trust in.
The next time you pray, don’t worry about saying the right thing. Instead, think about having the right heart. Think about God’s will and your willingness to trust Him with your prayers and your life.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”1 John 5:14-15 (NIV)