God’s Word instructs us to pray about everything. With prayer and thanksgiving we are to present our requests to God; accordingly, his promise to us in return is his peace—a measure of settled, heavenly comfort moving in to replace (or at least temporarily cover over) the disruptions of our hearts (see Phil. 4:6-7).
My heart’s been disrupted lately. How about you? Anything weighing you down and pulling you to your knees in search of answers?
My prayers seem to run in cycles. Whatever is most pressing (finances, church life, vocational strains, marriage, children, etc.) usually takes front and center when I entreat the Father with my thoughts. I wish I could say that I have this prayer thing figured out. I don’t. I wish my prayer life was more consistent. It isn’t. I wish I heard God’s voice more fully in my moments of concentrated conversation. I don’t. Instead, my prayer life is a strange mixture of half-hearted discipline, charged emotion, good intentions, and words that, more often than not, fill up a space rather than release the power of the Almighty.
Still and yet, I pray. Partly because of a long obedience to the practice, but mostly because there have been many times when my seemingly feeble attempts at communicating with God have yielded powerful, peace-filled results. Prayer works. All I have to do is to look back at the forty-seven plus years of my life to realize that where I am today … who I am today is the sum-total result of God’s willingness to move on my behalf because of the prayers of the saints.
Not that God couldn’t have brought me to this point of being the woman I am all on his own. God IS and does shape his children according to his great purposes. But I do believe he gives us a voice, his heavenly consideration when we bring our heartfelt petitions before his throne. Prayer is how we exercise our free will alongside God’s will. I don’t understand it all; I don’t need to. I simply believe in this joint, holy cooperation between the Father and his children to accomplish his great purposes upon this earth. Which leads me (and I realize it’s taken me a while to get here) to today’s rumination—the most pressing, on the front-edge-of-my-heart prayer.
What is the most potent, practical petition I can offer to God on behalf of my eldest sons?
There’s something they need today, something more from God that I’ve yet to see unfold. Accordingly, what could I ask of the Father that might hasten the process along? After all, isn’t that what we’re doing with most of our prayers, asking God to move on behalf of our requests?
Prayers for God to love them? No. He’s already loved them to death – literally. Nothing I can say can change the measure of God’s love for my sons. After all, they were his children before they were mine. God sets the standard for perfect parenting, perfect loving. Asking him to love them more is, well, a bit redundant. So I move on from there.
Other practical prayers. Prayers for good health? Good mates? Good jobs? Good friends? Good decisions? A good day? Well, certainly I run through these on a regular basis, some of them receiving more attention, more words as it pertains to the most pressing need of their daily existence. But really, these fall short for me; these feel more empty than full, like I’ve missed the mark somehow in my parental prayers.
And so I pray about it, a long while this morning and the better part of last night’s slumbering. God, what is the most potent, practical petition I can offer to you this morning on behalf of my eldest sons?
God speaks to me through his Word.
This is how to pray, Elaine; this is what you must ask for them: That my will be done in their lives on this earth as it is done in heaven (see Matt. 6:9-13).
He wouldn’t tell us to pray along these lines unless there was a need to pray along these lines. Somewhere between heavenly perfection and earthly attempts at the same, there is a line that separates the two. What is perfectly lived beyond us is not always perfectly lived within us. But I believe there’s a measure of it made available to us – our God’s perfect will unfolding before us even now, even as we live in this sin-sick, sin-saturated fallen world. A strong measure of how-it-is-done in heaven even as it is imperfectly done on this earth.
And this, friends, is the most potent, practical, and, yes, perfect petition we can offer to the Father on behalf of one another, eldest sons included. That God’s will might be made manifest in the lives of those we love; that he might orchestrate, push, prompt, and put in the paths of our children those people, situations, and even stumbling blocks that will bring them in perfect proximity with the perfect plan of heaven. All those other prayers we pray for them? For health, mates, jobs, friends, good decisions, and good days? Well, I’ll never tell you not to pray them. I would, however, tell you that all the temporal gains on this earth matter little if they don’t match up with the eternal gain of forever.
When God’s heaven cracks open just enough so that a little bit of it falls upon earth in radiant manifestation and speechless splendor, then we know that our prayers have moved the heart of God. That’s what I want – radiant, God-ordained heavenly movement in the lives of my eldest sons. The rest of it—their health, mates, jobs, friends, good days? Well, I don’t imagine they’ll get through this life without some heartache as it pertains to all of the “rest of it.” But this I do imagine . . .
When heaven drops down into their hearts, all of the “rest of it” can be lived in perfect peace and with abundant hope.
This is my mother’s prayer. The most potent, practical, petition I will offer on behalf of my eldest sons today.
Father, thy will be done in their lives, on this earth, even as it is done in heaven. Amen.
As always, friends . . .
Peace for the journey,