Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Loving God

When you pray to God, what are you praying for?

A lot of the time when we pray, we know what it is that we want God to do for us. We know how we want Him to respond. We know what we expect and desire His answer to be. And we pray toward a specific something, toward a specific revelation of Him or act of Him or blessing of Him that we're hoping to receive. And though the object of our prayer is often us, the target of our prayer is Him. We are laying out our expectation, our hope, our yearning for Him.

What's interesting, the more we listen to our own prayer and to the prayer of others, is how often our prayer shows our lack of faith, not our abundance of it.

Here's what I mean: too often, our prayer pleads with God to be who He's already promised to be. We pray for God to be loving; oh, how we long for Him to be loving. But God is already loving. It's who He is. He cannot be otherwise. We pray for God to be near; oh, how we long for Him to be near. But God is already near. He's walked with us from the very beginning. We pray for God to be healing; Lord, we need You to be healing in our lives. But God is already healing. He is restoring His creation with every breath.

We keep praying for God to be all of these things that He's promised He already is. We keep praying for God to be all of these things He's already shown us that He is. We keep praying for God to be...God and to act according to His character as He's revealed it from all the way back to the formless and void.

If our prayer is for God to be who God already is, do we even believe in Him? Do we even know anything about Him?

It just seems like a waste of prayer to me. We want God to be a force in our lives, but He's already a force in our lives. We want Him to be who He's promised to be, but He already is who He's promised to be. God doesn't change. If that's who He is, then He already is that. It's like telling our kids we need them to ask for a snack every twenty minutes or telling our grandma we need her to bake cookies when she visits. These things are going to happen anyway; they don't need to be said.

What we need to pray for is not for God to be God; He's going to do that anyway. We need to pray for God being God to change us. We don't need God to love us near as much as we need to be the kind of people who live into His love. He already loves us; we let that love down by letting go of it too easily. We don't need God to be a God who desires to heal us; He already desires to heal us. What we need is a heart that recognizes the healing already taking shape in our lives. We don't need God to draw close to us; He's already right here. What we need is to be a people who recognize how near He already is and reach out and touch Him.

In other words, what we most need is to be a people who believe in the God we pray to. What we most need is the courage to live as a people of the God who already is all the things we keep praying for Him to be.

And so maybe our best prayer is not, "Lord, please act on my behalf," but rather, "Lord, please make me a person who acts according to the truth of who you are."

That doesn't mean we get everything we want just the way that we want it. It doesn't mean our lives look exactly like we think they should. That's not what God-being-God means. That's not the Gospel; that's a cheap imitation. But what it means is simply that we recognize who God is and we live accordingly. We act on the truth that we already have instead of continuing to pray for confirmation of it. We trust in who God is instead of pleading with Him to continue to prove Himself because, let's be honest, this has been our prayer for a lifetime already. When is it going to be enough? When are we going to be willing to say, "Yes, Lord. You already are all the things I've been praying for You to be. And now, it's time for me to embrace Your goodness"?

And listen, this isn't mean to be a discouragement from praying. Not at all. Pray. Pray continually. Pray without ceasing. Pray every time you get the chance. But be aware of what it is that you're praying for and what's driving it. Do you keep praying for God to be what He already is? Then maybe it's time to just accept Him and start living into that. Maybe it's time to pray for the strength, the courage, and the heart to believe what you already know and what He's already demonstrated. 

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