When I ask God for something, I ask much the way the stereotypical teenager asks the stereotypical parent in Hollywood movies for a favour--tentatively, warily. Oh please, I want this so much! I gasp helplessly, while acknowledging mentally, But I know you don't want to give it to me, or you don't think you should give it to me!
My attitude towards God's answering prayer tends to be dubious and almost apologetic. I'm not sure that He will actually give it to me, or I'm very conscious that maybe He disapproves of what I'm asking for.
Hands behind my back, eyes fixed on my feet. Tentatively. "...please?"
As if God is embarrassed to have to listen to and answer my requests, since I know how small and possibly foolish they are to Him. With this attitude, naturally it tends to feel like a very private affair. I feel as if His answer--whether yes or no--was something strictly between the two of us.
Examining David's prayer in Psalm 40:11-17 and the motivations behind it made me see that I needed to change my attitude towards asking, and my motivations for asking. David's request was motivated by his trust in the person of God. This, by the way, is becoming a recurrent theme recently in my thoughts, writing, and reading. I apologize if it seems repetitive-I probably ought to write it out nicely in one cohesive post instead of letting it seep through messily in different ones; but truth can't be compartmentalized. More on that later (ironical as that sounds!)
Also, by his own humility and his blamelessness, two qualities which so easily become either-or. Humility, at least for me in my own experience, often only comes when I've messed up, when I'm not blameless. Likewise, with the same irony, blamelessness is rare but also always threatened by pride. You can't know you're blameless without feeling good about it, can you? Just as it's hard to be truly humble without the help of guilt and repentance. How to reconcile both of these seemingly oppositional virtues?
It is always meaningful to see how the truth of the Old Testament constantly ties in with the New Testament, and this was one of those instances, when I frowned over this paradox and suddenly realized that the only answer to this was the unique status we receive through Christ. The unique status of being simultaneously forgiven and perfect, simultaneously sinner and saint.
This was another reminder to me just how significant a role Christ has in our prayers. Just this morning I said grace in my halting Chinese with my grandma, congratulating myself when I made it through to the Amen. For those who struggle with praying publicly, it is nothing compared to praying in a language you're not competent with! If that gives you any comfort. I opened my eyes only to see her bright round eyes fixed reproachfully on me. I'd neglected to close with the Chinese equivalent of 'In Jesus' name,' for the simple reason that I forgot how to say it, and she reminded me sternly that without Christ we 'couldn't pray properly.' She is absolutely right, and I am glad my Chinese failed me then, for that reminder.
Prayer should remind us of Christ and His importance to us, whether in our requests to God, or simply in enabling us to pray at all.
But perhaps most strikingly, David's request was fueled by his confidence in how God saw his request--in his knowledge that answering his prayer was not a personal favour from God to him, but something which actually glorified God, something which made not only him, but the rest of God's people rejoice, and be encouraged by.
Think of it. God's answering your prayer actually glorifies Him. It blesses not just you alone, but others.
How's that for courage to ask?
And courage to talk more about your prayer life?
(which is what I need)
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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