Thursday, September 9, 2010

When to Stop Praying

I'm supposed to be the one with the ability to teach my children. It's what we mothers do--listen to the zillions of questions they lay before us and provide the most simple, straightforward answer possible to help satiate that burning desire for knowledge and understanding.

Yesterday was filled with questions about blood that oozes red from cuts and then dries black, about small "culvert" pipes inside us that carry the blood to our feet and mouth and brain.

It was easy to answer those questions about what to do if mommy found live yellow jackets still in the hole she was about to dig up for a quick science project. About what happens to tadpoles when they grow up and why we need to stay in the shady parts of the yard when the afternoon sun blazes high overhead.

But on the subject of prayer? Yes, I provide answers. But I always replay them in my mind, wondering if I'm giving an accurate response. That's probably why this post has been in my draft box for a little over two weeks. I still haven't figured all this out.

As an adult, a long-time Christian, a mother, I'm supposed to at least know the basics like prayer.

And yet, the more I read Scripture, the harder I'm finding it to provide my oldest, Wyatt, with the easy answers. The black and white doesn't roll off my tongue when my own recent study of the subject is leaving me floundering in those in-between gray areas like the early morning fog that falls heavy, making it impossible to see the car you know must still be in front of you.

Thankfully, despite my own failure to find resolution in my own prayer life, I have successfully taught Wyatt that we pray for God to heal us.

When he was running 103+ fever a few weeks ago, it was natural to pray aloud for him. Two o'clock in the morning, me holding a hot-to-the-touch boy crying on the couch because he "hurt." We talked about the bugs inside him, white blood cells (AKA "the white stuff") and how God could kill the bugs. The next afternoon when his fever spiked again, he asked, "Mommy, can you get me some water and pray for God to heal me?"

Water and a prayer--two things I can manage.

A few days later, Wyatt went into his daddy's prayer closet--a literal closet of our new home designated for prayer. I initially fussed at him to get out because that was daddy's place to pray."I can pray," he replied. And so he did: "God, please help mommy to get better."

He paused and I scratched my head, silently wondering what was wrong with me (and if he knew something I didn't).

He obviously questioned the prayer, too. "Mommy? Do you hurt?"

"No, sweetheart. Mommy doesn't hurt."

Another pause. Then, stumbling over words before saying, "God, please help me learn to be nice. Amen."

Pray for all things. That's what I teach. That's what I've learned.

But in my own prayer life, I'm guilty of not practicing what I preach. I don't pray about all things. Yes, I rattle off dozens and dozens of one-sentence prayers every day for the little things--prayers for no rain, for lots of rain, for the traffic to subside, for a boo boo to heal, for a cool breeze, for a cloud to block the sun, for economic security, for my classes to make, for Doug's employer to be financially blessed, for my children to obey or just hush, for the gas tank to not empty before I can get to the next station.

There is one big thing, though, that I have stopped praying about, something that consumed my prayer life for years, something my husband still prays about and still believes God will do--restoring his law license.

It's not that I've given up hope. I believe with my everything that God can restore my husband's career and livelihood. He has the power.

Where I'm having the problem is reconciling Philippians 4:11 ("I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances") with the parable in Luke 11 which implies we are to continuously seek, knock, ask, and petition God to "wear Him down" in a sense.

I have accepted God's "no" to my husband having his law license and a secure, stable job in the legal field. When the gavel slammed down with the decision, I grieved. And I moved on. I don't think about it much. I don't worry about it. Dwelling on it only brings back memories of pain, heartache, betrayal, and shame. It's not a good place for me to reside.

And to pray about it every day like I used to do just seems like that would make me less content with where God has placed me. It would seem to put me in a cycle of waiting, of constant anticipation for God to do something He simply may never do because it's not in our best interests or not in His kingdom plan. And if that's His ruling for the rest of our lives, I'm OK with that.

If God would only speak and tell me what to do, if "yes", this is still something I should pray for, this would be easy.

But for now, He is silent, and I just can't reconcile being truly content about something with constant pestering, uh, "petitioning" God about the same topic...


  1. I wrestle with these same questions, Jennifer.

    And I'd REALLY like to wrestle away in a little prayer closet like that! Very cool.

  2. Can't take credit for the closet--totally the hubby's idea. And wrestling is definitely the verb to describe it.

  3. I cried over this post. I can relate. LOVE the prayer closet. Praying, aching for you right now.

  4. Hi, I'm visiting again. Read on a few of the posts I've missed. Your children are growing, and so are we all.

    Sorry to hear about the cat scratches on the new sofa, though.

    After this comment, I'll be reading some more. Just to keep myself updated with your life.

    But I'm commenting now just so I don't forget what I want to say.

    Keep believing for the time of restoration of Doug's law career. Go to the COurt of APpeals of heaven, have you done that, where every case is heard and tried by the supreme Lawgiver and Ultimate Judge of the UNiverse. Present your case before Him, yes I mean that literally. Read your list before Him of the unfairness of everything, the injustice of it all, everything that has been stolen from you. Make that list. WHen we want the insurance company to pay us for what we lost, they need a list to know what it is they have to pay for. You can do that to God, and just so you know, make the list of what has been unlawfully taken away from DOug and your family.

    He will repay you for the years the locust has eaten. THis is the year of God's favor, the vengeance of the Lord. Ask for Him to pour on you His turnaround anointing.

    COntentment is good. I believe in it. But sometimes the evil schemer wants us to call something contentment that God has not called such. May God help you to discern what the next action steps are. But keep believing, dear Jennifer, keep hope alive, never give up. Trust in the timing of His purposes for His children, the ones who love Him and the ones He truly loves - all things will work out for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

    I just wanted to send these words to you as they arose in my heart as I was reading it.

    Oh the prayer closet is such a great idea!

    Love you, Jennifer.