“Man, the enemy’s out in full force today, and you’re nowhere to be found!”
Prayers can be funny things. You can compose the floweriest, most doctrinally sound, and poetic piece of intercessory prose and God can answer with an emphatic: “NO.” Alternatively, you can yell at your ceiling in sin and God can unilaterally solve your problems. So, like I said, prayer’s a funny thing.
Let me back up and tell the story.
A couple of weeks ago my wife left me at home with the kids (all three of them!) while she went to London for her doula training weekend. Over the course of this weekend I was tasked not only with keeping the kids alive, but also sleep training our youngest. I was super-excited.
More than excitement though, that Daddy pride was kicking in. Before my daughter got out of school I took the boys grocery shopping, it was an uneventful trip, as it would be with any competent parent, but the whole time I was walking around waiting for some other shopper to drop the ‘b’ word. “Oh, you’re babysitting?” “No, I’m parenting…” I had my reply locked and loaded just waiting for the justification. Little things like that, little comments that nobody really thinks anything of revealed (looking back) how much pride I had built up over the weekend. Everything had gone so well! Minimal meltdowns, meals eaten, no ER visits, and above all that, the sleep training seemed to be working really well. It was a Dad of the Year kind of performance.
So of course the wheels fell off on Sunday morning right before church.
Our youngest had just woken up from a STELLAR thirteen hour sleep performance, but was nothing but grumpy, miserable, and whiny. Nothing appeased him. Our oldest boy (and middle child) was my unnecessary shadow, everywhere I was he HAD to be, unless I needed to get him dressed, or changed, then he was nowhere to be found. Our daughter had spent the night at her grandparents’ place and was imminently inbound. On top of that, I had just talked to my wife and she was actually coming home a few hours later than I had originally expected. Then the wiggling started. Our youngest is a wiggler. He decided to put on a wiggling clinic that Sunday morning while I was trying to put him into his car seat. These things were all happening simultaneously.
That’s when the above prayer made its way out of my mouth.
It was a prayer too, no way around that. I was talking to God. More at Him to be honest. But I was talking to God therefore I was praying. Here’s what happened immediately after I “prayed” that prayer: it all went away. Our wiggler stopped wiggling and crying for the rest of the morning, his brother calmed down and actually got his own shoes, and we were all ready to go when their sister got home. We were at church on time. We were at church EARLY.
It took me another hour to see what happened. The enemy wasn’t attacking, I was just doing it all on my own. Daddy pride. I had acted all weekend like I was the man, like I had this handled. Like I was the baby-whispering/sleep training/man of the year alpha dad. I didn’t need God’s help, I didn’t need His Grace; at least not until I really did, and by then it was so much about me that I didn’t realize I wasn’t only not asking for help, I was telling God by my actions: “I got this, You take five, I don’t need Your help.”
He had every right to smack me down after a prayer like that, every right to let me keep struggling (and sinning) all morning until I saw my own sin (or had it called out) and repented. Instead, He helped. Instead, He solved my problem and let me come to my own realization in the service that morning.Sometimes we think we have to use certain language in prayer to get God to listen. Nothing could… Click To Tweet
Sometimes we think we have to pray a certain way. We have to use certain language or certain expressions in prayer to get God to listen and do what we want. Nothing could be further from the truth. God wants us, warts and all, He wants our hearts and He wants us to be honest, be real with him. Not to say that that prayer of mine wasn’t sinful, it was. But God knew how to respond to me, His son. He knew how to humble me, and teach me to rely even more on Him and His grace.
How does prayer work? Be honest. God’s smart, He knows how to answer you too.