The prayer I’m tempted to take back

 

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While preparing to travel abroad for mission work this summer, one day I felt particularly daring and prayed a prayer I will never forget…

Lord, I don’t want to be comfortable or safe, I just want to be equipped.

Since then, I have eaten those words a hundred times.

Oh I was sincere alright. So sincere that God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, heard me and accepted the challenge. I had no idea what I had done.

You see, this prayer didn’t stop with mission work. He has carried it over into every facet of my life! While millions of Christians around the globe spend their quiet time in the mornings reading Scripture, meditating on his Word, writing prayer lists, reading thought-provoking devotions, writing thought-provoking devotions, sitting in reverent silence, worshiping in song, snuggled up in their comfy chair or nestled on the subway or somewhere in between, my quiet time was anything but quiet.

My mind was about to explode. With my heart beating out of my chest in stress and distress, I could no more sit quietly than I could have sang a worship song. So much angst swelled up in me that the taste of bitter adrenaline filled my mouth as sweat poured down the back of my neck. I had a morning chat with God and it went something like this (all caps intended) –

WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!?!? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. THIS HAPPENS YOU DISAPPEAR! WHY AM I LEFT TO DEFEND, AND FEND FOR, MYSELF? 

AREN’T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE MY GOOD FATHER? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE! BOTH OF MY FATHERS QUIT AND WALKED OUT ON ME DECADES AGO! I THOUGHT YOU HAD MY BACK!

WHERE ARE YOU? WHY DON’T YOU MOVE. ACT. SAY SOMETHING WHEN THIS HAPPENS!!! WHY AM I LEFT ALONE IN THIS!

(With shoulders tight and nostrils flared…)

I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE! EVERY TIME THIS HAPPENS, YOU JUST STAND BY SILENTLY! I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE! WHERE ARE YOU!

That was my prayer time. I was fuming mad at God and was screaming so loud in my head I can’t believe people nearby couldn’t hear me. My jaw was clenched shut and gave me a headache. I ended my prayer time madder than when it began.

Later, all that stress and anxiety and anger welled up again when the situation returned. This time, I didn’t have the fight in me.

Through hot, salty tears I prayed with head hung low in despair – with a broken, bruised and bleeding heart –

Why God? Why are you letting this happen over and over? I’m not strong enough to handle this.

His response, You wanted to be equipped, not comfortable or safe. 

Well yeah, but come on!

Didn’t you want to be equipped? Isn’t this what you prayed for?

Yeah, but why do I have to do it alone?

You’re not alone. 

I don’t have the strength. 

Yes you do. Philippians 4:13. It’s Christ’s strength in you.

But where are you in those dreadful moments? I don’t hear you. See you. Nothing. I call to you, but I get silence.

I’m not silent. I’m just not working in the ways you want me to. You asked to be equipped. What you want is for me to fix the problem when frankly it may be you who I am concentrating my work on in the moment..to equip and all.

Then God reminded me of how far we’ve come together. Things that used to break me don’t anymore. What used to send me to tears doesn’t anymore.

My emotional stamina, if you will, has been greatly strengthened one giant-slaying victory at a time.

This time it was about spiritual stamina.

When the enemy is foaming at the mouth, spewing lies and taunting me. When he plays dirty and takes no prisoners. When he knows exactly which buttons to push and which weaknesses to press his heel into and knows precisely which tangible mediums to work through, how do I respond?

Do I fold into a lump on the floor and give up? Do I give in? Do I run away?

This time. This day was different. Where before I responded in those ways, this time I closed my eyes and recalled Scripture. All that came out was something like, God is good all the time. He knows. He sees. He saves. He is Truth and is who I am going to listen to.

I may not have fought back with tangible means, but I picked up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and fought back with all my his might.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

The battle was gruesome. Raw. Emotionally bloody. The enemy took aim at me and released the hounds of fear, incompetence, failure and discouragement. I am here to say he was defeated.

Exhausted, I tend my wounds and ask God to heal those that need the touch of the Master Surgeon. But I am in tact. Stronger. And I am finally starting to get it.

God heard my original prayer forsaking comfort and safety in his name, if only I would be equipped for his work. I have learned this prayer is not for the faint of heart, of which I have been countless times.

He is answering me through tough training. Brutal battles. Yet he is also giving me eyes to see exactly where he was in those moments. He makes sure to point out his hand in the fight, just to reassure me that I am not alone.

I can’t deny his works. He is right. He is there in every moment. Every. Single. Moment.

I am learning what I thought I already knew – God will not only get the victory, but he wants me to share in it so I am strengthened by him and through him and because of him.

With that strength he is equipping, yet it is anything but comfortable or safe.

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