Pessimistic Prayer

My daughter Bethany and I are spending the next couple days writing in a hotel room a few miles away from home. While I focus on making some headway on other projects, I would like to share with you excerpts from her excellent post on prayer. I think you’ll appreciate it.

I am a naturally gifted pessimist…
The last couple years I’ve been convicted about prayer. It’s still a battleground I am trying to indulge in night and day. I have to say that sometimes it sounds like the least appealing thing to do, but like most things God commands, it is also an unfathomable blessing…and rather addicting. God is merciful to make our erratic, painful, stutters morph into joyous habits.

Recently I have woken up to a disturbing personal trend. I am properly horrified. I continue to be shocked at my shock at God’s direct answers to prayers. Right then, right there. He’ll even rub my face in it when I trudge along staring at the mud.

God’s answers to prayers are often rather roundabout (thankfully there not what I might call down). Sometimes the answer simply is “no” and often “patience”, but sometimes God really does delight to answer them right there…right in my face.

At the beginning of the year I like to take a few days to obsess over generally unrealistic goals and plans. This year my Mumsie handed me a newly discovered sheet of paper with a host of open-ended questions. I attacked it with pleasure, compiling lists of things to do, skills to cultivate, and relationships to work on. I neatly skipped the first question, but since then I’ve come back several times. I am puzzled over my inability to answer a simple question. 

What is the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?  

It remains unanswered. A large white space…seemingly raising its eyebrow and staring critically into my soul. 😉

Why do I have such a hard time with this question? I mean, there’s plenty of things I want God to do that are impossible. That’s not the the issue… Or is it? Maybe we should define “impossible.And maybe I should ponder what kind of relationship such a word has with my all-powerful God…

When the rather slow-moving side of my head wakes up and says “Maybe I should be praying about this instead of waving my arms and shouting,” I should, can, and do stop and pray. But with twisted, cynical satisfaction, I continue to plan for the worst possible circumstances. I do not look for God’s answer. What’s with this? Don’t I believe my Father overflows with steadfast love? Don’t I believe my Savior conquered “impossible”? Don’t I realize I have been given the the already inconceivable gift of prayer to bring thanksgiving and struggles to Him?

What kind of prayer am I praying?
It certainly doesn’t seem to be the kind watching with bated breath for the moment God will move Mount Fuji. It might just take a volcano to get my attention.

This might just play into my pigheaded inability to “dream big”.
It’s scary to think the impossible is possible.

It’s considerably easier to plan for mud when it’s raining. But it doesn’t mean there’s a year of mudfest ahead. It might mean tomorrow is spring. If you insist on tromping about in rubber boots, you’re going to miss free bare toes in the grass, the dirt, the gravel. If you carry an umbrella to protect you from the rain in your head, you’re going to miss the sun altogether.But I digress… 

Maybe I should stop and pray about this…
To my God who is beyond my understanding. Who has had every moment planned out for my gain…not my doom.
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