I’m guessing many of you are like me and get aggravated when your computer is slow, or when fast food is less than fast. When I think I need an immediate deliverance from an unpleasant situation or circumstance, I quickly ask God for rescue and most often, I am left in the situation until it is resolved…and perhaps not the way I would have liked. I keep wanting to think that God is teaching me patience in those moments; however, I’m beginning to pay closer attention to what I already know – He wants me to change my expectations from wanting my answers to prayer to be according to my anticipated outcomes to using the mind of Christ He gave me: “‘For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The mind of Jesus was always perfectly submitted to the will of the Father…it awes me to think this same mind belongs to me…if I will use it!
Patience (or long-suffering) is a fruit that doesn’t seem to ripen on my tree sometimes. When I need help, I want God to hear me quickly and deal with my situation perfectly, which would, of course, be exactly the way I think He should deal with it. Sometimes God has other answers in mind that I am incapable of understanding when standing in the moment of “need.”
Dallas Willard said, “Wanting God to be God is very different from wanting God to help me.” If I could grasp this, my praying would be very different much of the time! In my heart I know that my prayers should always be in alignment with the will of God, and that I need to lay aside my own agenda in deference to His plans and purposes. But there are just times when I need help from God and so I ask! I wish I could say that I always ask with a pure heart, expecting God to be God and then get out of the way. Often, my whiney prayer is to get my needs met according to my own human expectations. What if God has a higher and better outcome through my suffering…or by letting me experience waiting or pain or disappointment? Am I able to step aside and watch from God’s perspective as my situation plays out in the heavenlies, or am I so impatient that I miss an important lesson, or even a blessing?
James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” The writer of Proverbs states, “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but his motives are weighed by the Lord.” Ouch. When I want prayer to be about me…my need, my timing, my expectation, my way, my comfort, my desire, etc. instead of looking with anticipation for God to be all that He is in the midst of my situation, I’m asking with wrong motives. He holds my best interests in His heart. How can I ever think that my thoughts and ways are higher and better than what He intends? I wonder how often I actually screw up the perfect plans of God because I am impatient or ask selfishly.
As the fox says to the Little Prince in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic story, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” For God to be God, we, His people, must desire to trust what we cannot see enough to know that it will be His very best for us, whether we believe it at the time or not. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you’” ( Jeremiah 29:11-12)
Kim’s passion is to see God’s people recognize that prayer is a creative, continual moment by moment lifestyle with God as we align our hearts with His plans and purposes for His glory and for the sake of His kingdom. Her ministry involves writing, teaching and consulting. She also compiles and edits HPM’s free daily devotional, Connection! and blogs regularly on the HPM website). Kim is a member of America's National Prayer Committee, VP of Gospel Revivals, Inc. and on the Advisory Board for America Prays.
Kim has a BA in Psychology and a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation and Leadership.