I have been wondering lately how acceptance and prayer work together. Not so much about how the Serenity Prayer works (that is a thing of beauty, and deserves its own post) but about whether our prayers work with or against the acceptance of reality.
On the one hand, it is good and healthy to accept that things are as they are (or were as they were). This is us receiving reality with open eyes. But on the other hand, we are told to pray for people, situations, and ourselves. We are told to pray for healing and God’s will to be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” We are told that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” And, “You have not because you ask not.” This creates a tension in my mind.
In praying for change am I not accepting reality? In accepting reality am I not believing that God can change things? What’s a body to do?
Well, here’s what I’ve come up with so far.
One, I know that God can change things. I believe down to my shoes that God has power over all of creation. From world-shaking events to good parking spots. The weather? Yeah, he can change that. Cancer? Yeah, he can heal that. My stinking attitude? Yep, he’s really good at changing people. God can change things.
Two, I can ask God to do something or to change something. We have God’s permission to not like bad things and to ask him to change them. You may even say it’s our duty.
Three, we accept what he decides to do. We, in our praying, in our asking, submit to God’s will. He may answer, “Yes,” he may answer, “No,” he may answer, “Not yet.” In believing that God loves us and is working his good and perfect will in our lives, we can say “Not our will, but yours.” We accept the yes, the no, or the not yet. We may never stop praying for something (and that’s allowed, too!), while at the same time we accept that we may never see our prayers answered in the way we would like them to be answered. We accept he knows, and does, best.
Boiled down it looks like this:
1. Believe He can do it
2. Ask if He will
3. Accept what He does
I know this doesn’t remove the mystery of God’s will and prayer, but it does help me see where acceptance fits in. I am finding so much peace and healing through learning to accept things as they are. Things about me, things about you, things about the world. Do I still ask God to change things? Every day. Do I accept that he may or may not? Well, I’m working on it. But I do accept that this is a life-long process. God, grant me the wisdom…