Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Prayer: Patience and Understanding

When I first tried praying it was entirely selfish. I prayed to get what I wanted... or thought I needed. Did I need a majority of what I prayed for? Nope. One of the last times I prayed in my teens, I prayed that my ex-boyfriend and I would work out our differences and that we'd stay together. I was kind of miffed when it didn't happen. In fact, we ended up breaking up only a week after I prayed. I didn't understand why my prayers hadn't been answered. Wasn't that how prayer worked?, I asked myself. It wasn't until much later that I realized that the break-up was a blessing; to this day he remains the most manipulative and dishonest boyfriend I've ever had.

Fast forward several years later. As I grew spiritually, I learned that sometimes our prayers don't get answered because it's not God's will for us; that He has something better in store. It wasn't overnight. Some of my reversion prayers included a lot of bargaining (big no-no!) so I'd get what I wanted. Eventually I began accepting that I could ask for something but that it wouldn't always be answered. I accepted it and tried to see the positive in unanswered prayers. My default is usually "well, I don't understand it but God knows what He's doing so I trust in Him."

It's really hard to see friends and family struggle with this. No matter how many times you try to explain things, and no matter how many times they say they understanding it, intellectually, they can still feel like God is ignoring them and their "needs" (usually wants).

Lately I had to see someone I'm incredibly close with go through this. Their prayer life and relationship with God was suffering because their prayers were going unanswered. I could see God doing so many wonderful things in their life but they refused to see it; all they could see is how they wanted something and they weren't getting it. I talked to them several times. "I get it in my mind... but I don't get it in my heart" was the usual response. Many prayers and novenas were prayed for them, asking for the gift of understanding for them; that their relationship with God not suffer.

In the past couple of days, God has slowly been revealing His reasons for not answering the prayers intentions the person had. This person now saw that prayer intention one was not answered like they wanted because there was something better planned for them. Prayer intention two was finally answered this week, after a long time (several months) of struggling with understanding why God hadn't answered it. "Now I get it," was what the person told me last night. I hope their relationship with God strengthens and their spiritual life grows after going through this.

Why am I sharing this? Because a) I know how hard it is to want to give up on prayer when we don't get what we think we need (but it's usually what we want and don't actually need) and b) because it's not always easy to help those who are struggling with this issue. Maybe the issue with the person isn't an unanswered prayer but a Church teaching. What I hope at least one person gets out of this blog post is that God is always listening; don't give up just because things aren't done how you want it and/or when you want it.

If your prayer isn't getting answered, it doesn't mean He's not listening. It may mean He has something better in store for you. Maybe it will get answered further down the line but you need to learn and/or grow before it can be answered. As for that person in your life who is struggling with it? Talk to them. If they can't "get it" remind them (when they bring up the subject, of course) that He's listening but answers sometimes take time. If it seems nothing is getting through, pray for them. Unceasingly. Sometimes praying for them -- for their patience, understanding, and struggles -- is exactly what they need. Even if you don't tell them you're praying for them, do it. Nothing is sadder than seeing someone's relationship with God suffering or getting close to becoming irreparable because of something like this.

Anywho, that's it for now. It's not as hot as it was yesterday (112 degrees F!) but I enjoyed my time away from the internet so I'm going to go read some books and stay cool (in my a/c cooled living room). Sorry, internet. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

1 comment:

Megan Rossing said...

Very good post. One thing I heard a Priest say years ago, was that God always answers our prayers and He has three different responses: Yes, no and not yet.

"We don't pray hoping God will hear us (He always hears us), we pray hoping we will hear Him." Those words completely changed my prayer life. I too, used to pray in a very selfish way. Telling God what I "needed", because apparently I thought He didn't know. :p

God Bless!
Megan Marie