Can we ask God for what we truly want? Isn’t that selfish? Are some requests just too big?
Philip Yancey writes, “I have learned to tell God exactly what I want regardless of how impossible it may sound. I pray for peace in the Middle East…for religious freedom in China…for an end to homelessness and racism in the U.S., because I earnestly desire those things—and moreover, I believe God does too.”*
But sometimes we can find ourselves plagued with doubts. “Why pray for something so idealistic and impossible?” “I’ve been praying for this forever, why bother?” Yancey responds, “What is the point of prayer if not to express our heart’s desire, especially when it matches what we know to be God’s will on earth?”
There are many times in my life that I have not known what to pray. I didn’t know what to ask—and so I have prayed that God’s will be done, not mine, because I didn’t even know what my will was. I have simply submitted to God’s will and placed myself trustingly in God’s capable hands. That has often seemed like the right prayer at the time.
Oh, but there are plenty of other times when I have known exactly what I wanted—without any doubt at all. And in some of those times, my prayer has gone more like this. “Now God…I know that you may have a plan and I trust in your will, BUT I really need you to know what I want in this situation.” Then I have spelled out my heart’s desire and trusted that whatever God did would be okay.
I doubt that one of the above types of prayer is always right. I tend to think that the best prayer is the honest prayer, the prayer from the heart. Therefore, praying requires that I first identify my heart’s deepest needs. Then to lift those needs to God. God really does want to know our heart’s desires—after all, God loves us and knowing those intimate desires is part of love.
May your prayer be deep and rich and from your heart.
* Grace Notes: Daily Readings With Philip Yancey, reading for April 5.