Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
If we are not careful, our prayer requests can morph into strict demands. We stand our ground and pester God for insight. We insist He changes our circumstances according to our time frame and in the way we see fit. We mandate that everything works out in our favor and for our good. We dictate our faith and our obedience comes with strings attached. We spiritualize our issues in hopes of bringing ourselves into God’s favor. By doing so, we hope that God will get in line and finally see things from our perspective.
In the midst of this pleading and posturing, God waits for us to stop leaning on our own understanding and simply trust that He is in control. What prevents intimacy and growth from occurring in our prayer life is our demand to understand how God is working behind the scenes. Often, the roadblock preventing a breakthrough is an unwillingness on our part to surrender our need to know.
True peace will always be out of our reach if we allow it to be contingent upon our level of understanding. It is impossible to be anxious about nothing when we are making ourselves sick attempting to understand everything. In this world, we will face challenging circumstances that have the power to take us off course and shake us to our core. There will be moments when we will be forced to believe in the power of prayer. We will collide with the futility of creation and the brokenness of sin. Attempting to make sense of it all is impossible. Yet, that doesn’t mean God isn’t powerful and that He doesn’t care.
We don’t have to understand a situation for God to be in control of it. We aren’t made to understand how the world works; we are made for God. We don’t pray so we can better understand our world, we pray so we can connect with our Creator. This requires humility on our part. Humbling ourselves is a posture of recognition. By taking our eyes off our situation and setting our sights on God, we no longer have to fight for control, worry ourselves sick or disengage from our circumstances. His peace serves to protect our heart and mind.
We must do everything in our power to lay our burdens down at His feet and not pick them back up again. Articulating our burden can be a trying task because there will be moments when we can’t express what we are feeling. The weight of the burden takes our breath away. With His consistent grace and mercy, God provided the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf when we don’t know how to pray. He meets us there with His presence. God strips away everything so all we are left to depend on is Him.
Sometimes the most powerful prayers are the simple ones. They open up the conversations.
“God, speak to me.” is a prayer of submission that pushes us to listen. All too often we are the ones doing all the talking and we don’t allow God to get a word in edge-wise. A conversation requires two people to have the opportunity to speak.
“God, provide for me.” is a prayer of patience that leads us to trust. This simple prayer counteracts our tendency to rely on our own self-sufficiency. No matter what we face, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we respond with patience knowing that God uses everything to transform our heart into His own.
Where are you demanding understanding before you are willing to trust God with your circumstances? What would it look like to let go of these demands?
God, rather than push for understanding, may I trust You without condition. while walking in humility and recognizing You are the one who is in control. I don’t need to know all the details before I take a step of faith. Expose the areas where my requests have turned into demands. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.