First published April 10 2013
I never know how long to pray about things. I’m often not sure exactly how to pray.
The other day, Hope and Nancy and I were talking about this question, about what to pray for in a particular health situation. Hope and some of her friends had been discussing it at great length.
“Imagine you and [your brother] Andrew having a conversation about how to ask me for something. You spend a long time talking about how much to ask for, about what the best approach might be. Why wouldn’t you just ask me? And in our conversation we can talk about the best way to ask.”
Discussions of the right way to pray only make sense if God can’t hear us talking. They only make sense if somehow, we can trick God into doing something for us if we can ask in exactly the right way. They only make sense if there is a penalty for asking the wrong way, for asking too much.
When Hope and Dan and Andrew and Allie ask me for something, they don’t have to be afraid of saying the wrong thing. They may not get what they want, but they have my attention, and my interest, and my heart. Andrew, for example, just asked for feedback on something he had written. I gave him suggestions on how to change it. It involved more work on his part. But that’s part of the conversation.
I understand disappointment. I’ve asked for healing when the result was death. I’ve asked for restoration when the result was disintegration. And I’ve watched others ask for rescue when the result was destruction. I don’t think that the problem was in the approach, in asking for the wrong thing or asking the wrong way. But I’ll keep asking and listening, until I know.