Originally published on March 8, 2015.
I remember her standing there in her driveway, confessing to me with a little laugh and a shake of her head: “I’ve been fighting with God about something for a little while now, and I should know better….I know He’s going to win in the end.” My mother-in-law was seventy-two then, and I remember smiling with her in rueful acknowledgement of divine sovereignty and human emotions–the lesson that takes a lifetime to learn. I think of her often in my own storms, when it gets hard to be still and know that He is God. Even when you know all along Who is in charge and to Whom your heart will bow in the end, still the heart needs time to process, time to find new perspectives and lay down its natural reactions. These don’t come naturally, and there is wisdom in that admission– that prayer isn’t the suspending of our wills, but the bowing down of them. Not the denying of our emotions but the sharing of them in intimate relationship. And it is the willingness to go through the changing process that is our offering of worship to the King. As Paul wrote to the Romans “…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
This is where prayer is so invaluable to us, because in that private space we can honestly pour out every thought and feeling without regard for how correct it is, or how mature, or how admirable. It is the one safest place to be real: in the presence of the Person who made us, the One who went through death and back, for us. As long as our end goal is to please Him and do things His way, He is unfailingly patient with the process of getting us there. And as long as we are opening the door to Him in prayer, we are allowing Him the opportunity to interact with us, grow us, help us understand Him better, which is what He wants most of all.
When all the words have run out and the storm of emotion has run dry, there is left a quietness in His presence, and the comforting of His Spirit. The situation may not have changed at all, but the heart waits, knowing that He understands, and stands alongside. This is the gift of prayer. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)
Practically then, I say, Pray as He did, until prayer makes you cease praying. Pray until prayer makes you forget your own wish, and leave it or merge it in God’s will.Frederick Robertson
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18