I am a very controlling person. Only I do it quietly, spiritually, reverently, and often with my eyes closed. We call it prayer.
Every problem I am have or foresee (and I can foresee pretty far), I bring to God with urgent prayers of “Father, please help so and so, please protect so and so, please heal, please direct paths, please fix….” And instead of feeling more peace for bringing my cares before the Throne of Grace, I feel more panic and distress.
I pray perfection on everyone, and then feel my lack of control even stronger.
I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work.
My husband and I had lunch with my aunt shortly after her husband died. She mentioned that she had prayed for strength during his illness. A simple statement, but do you see what she didn’t pray for? I missed it myself, but my husband caught it. She didn’t pray for EVERYTHING ELSE. She didn’t pray for his miraculous healing, or for their financial affairs, or for any of the other things we might ask for in that situation. She simply asked for strength.
There is wisdom in that.
When I pray simply for strength to handle what comes my way, I am releasing myself from the pressure of orchestrating other people’s lives.
When I pray simply for strength, I am acknowledging that I need God’s help. That I am weak, but he is strong. I need his strength.
When I pray simply for strength, I can rest in God’s control of the situation. I know that he knows best.
When I pray simply for strength, I can be a child of faith again, and not the coordinator of all mankind.
Does that lighten your heart like it does mine?
Yes, I know I didn’t have control before, but in pleading to God for the all things I wanted to happen (or not happen), I felt I could possibly gain some control over the situation. And the demand for control, I’m pretty sure, is the opposite of faith.
Also, if I feel like I have to keep reminding God to be loving and kind, then I don’t really believe he is loving and kind. And that shines a bright light on the condition of my faith.
That said, what about bringing all our hopes and concerns to God? I say go for it. I say that Scripture tells us it’s good to bring everything to God. But I would add that it’s good to notice whether you are bringing those concerns to God to share your heart with your Heavenly Father, or to tell him how he needs to fix everybody daggumit.
There’s a a big difference in the two. There are times when it is good for me to talk in great detail to my Heavenly Father about all the things in my life. And there are times when speaking the details to God fuels the flame of my anxiety. For me, if I feel my anxiety growing during prayer it’s a sign that I need to hand God the whole kit-and-caboodle and ask simply for strength. He knows the details anyway, remember?
But the good news here is that God is God whether our motives are right or not – whether we are turning to our Heavenly Father for help or frantically telling him how we want the universe run. He is faithful and compassionate to his children even though we don’t always get it right. He knows our hearts, our fears, our concerns. And he will give his strength to those who ask. Which is good, because I need it.