Published February 21, 2017

Shelia Shares
"Praying Wisely"

The story is told of a church group that held a garage sale. The sale was good and they had only a little left over. They decided to place the items in a box and mark it "Free Box."

After placing the box by the road, they joined in a circle and prayed asking God to have someone stop by and pick up the box.

They had just finished praying when a gentleman who was driving by stopped his truck. He looked at the box, glanced around, dumped the contents on the grass, threw the box in his truck and drove away.

The group looked at each other in amazement and then began to laugh. God had, indeed, answered their very specific prayer.

Maybe this story represents how we can pray for the wrong things, sometimes by accident and sometimes deliberately.

James 4:2b-3 reads, "You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."

How can we pray amiss?

Suppose I have a problem with my eye. I pray that it will be healed. Am I praying correctly? What prayer does God wants to hear?

I could say, "Lord, You are a God of healing. Please heal my eye."

Another option is that I could say, "Lord, I would like nothing more than that You heal my eye. However, not my will but Yours."

The first option, basically tells God there is only one answer I want and only one answer I will accept to my eye problem. I have the best thing figured out and I am directing God to work that way.

The second option leaves the door open that God could decide not to heal my eye miraculously or immediately. It allows that He might have a purpose to my less-than-perfect vision. It leaves the door open to God teaching me something as I wait for His healing. It puts me in a position in which, when I have endured through the problem, I have more understanding of other people in similar circumstances. And, since God's thoughts are so much higher than mine, it allows that He could have a miracle for me that I have not even considered as a possibility.

I remember the story of a pastor who was in an area of the world where the church was severely persecuted. He was asked what his prayer is. His reply stunned me. He said he prays that God will show the church what they need to learn through this persecution.

Why wasn't he praying to have the persecution stop? Isn't that what he wanted? It probably was his desire, but he understood that the God who can do anything knows best what to do in his situation. Obviously, that pastor was in tune with God and seeking God's perfect will.

Lord, help us to pray wisely. Help us to be willing to accept Your will and Your way. Give us the faith and the trust in the midst of the storms.

- Shelia

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