Are We Praying God’s Priorities?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,                                                                                            neither are my ways your ways,” declares the LORD.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Isaiah 55:8

Most Christians these days are praying more than usual. Some are praying for protection, some for the healing of the sick, wisdom for our leaders, and the stop of the Corona virus. Some are asking – pleading – for the eradication of the disease, others boldly demanding it, some directly commanding it to leave in the name of Jesus. Is one approach better than another? And are we praying for God’s will or our own?

In my book BARRIERS (So, if prayers are so powerful, how come mine don’t get answered?) one chapter deals with the “barrier” of wrong priorities. We forget that sometimes what we consider of utmost importance is secondary to God, and vise versa. For example, God has made it clear that He values a person’s spiritual health more than physical health, and eternity more that our brief lives on this earth. He cares more about our deeds than our material wealth.

Does that mean God doesn’t care if we’re sick or dying or out of work? Of course not! He delights in blessing us in every area of life. But when “blessings” don’t seem to be happening, we need ask ourselves whether there is something else going on.

The following is an excerpt from BARRIERS, Chapter Five: Wrong Priorities:

In the Old Testament God was constantly warning the children of Israel of the dangers of prosperity. Moses pleaded with the people not to forget the Lord when they had times of plenty and ease in the Promised Land, and again and again they did just that. The pattern repeats itself throughout history: God blesses His people; they become comfortable; they stray from Him; He disciplines them; they repent and come back to Him; He blesses them again; again they get comfortable and stray. In reading the history of the Israelites, I have been astonished that they never seemed to catch on. It could be because, while I was reading a condensed history of the people, they were living out their lives, day to day, without stepping back to look at the Big Picture – the eternal picture.

Then I realize it isn’t just ancient Israel’s nature; I have seen the same pattern in recent history in the U.S. God has blessed this country more than any other, and over time our culture as a whole has drifted away from Him, with occasional milestones that indicate which direction we are going.

Occasionally there is a disaster that makes headlines – a shooting at Columbine high school, a bombing in Oklahoma City, mass murder on 9-11 – and for a while churches in America overflow with people grieving, searching, maybe even repenting. But it isn’t long before most of them get back to “business as usual,” with attention to God relegated to one hour on Sunday morning, if they think of Him at all.

I have often wondered what would happen if people came to love the Lord in the hard times, but then continued to love Him, even in the good times.

We may never know.

On a smaller scale, take the example of the woman who is praying for her son to know the Lord. Maybe he has known and served Him before, but in times of prosperity he is now distracted by work, vacations, entertainment, money matters, and everything else that comes with an affluent lifestyle. The devoted mother faithfully continues praying that God will get his attention.

The one day the diagnosis comes: terminal cancer.

And now God has his attention!

And what is the request that the prayer team gets? “Pray for healing!”

Now please don’t misunderstand – I’m not at all against healing – I’ve been healed on several occasions, and I’m thankful to God for it. It has enabled me to serve Him with more physical energy and strength. And I do pray that my friends and acquaintances who struggle with sickness will be healed. But I have another prayer for them that I consider far more significant.

Think about it. Which is worse – having cancer, dying at age 50 knowing God and spending eternity in heaven, or living in good health for 100 years without any regard for God, then spending eternity in darkness and regret? I realize it doesn’t have to be one or the other, but it does seem a little ironic that we pray fervently for God to get someone’s attention, and once He does it, what we immediately cry out to Him is, in essence, Make it stop!

After many years of unsuccessful prayers for sick friends, I have changed my approach. Acknowledging that God is ultimately in control, that He has a plan, and that He probably knows way more about what that person really needs than I do, I pray:

Lord, whatever You want to accomplish with this sickness (or job loss, or other trouble) I pray that it will be accomplished in Your perfect will, in Your perfect timing.

And the sooner that is accomplished, the sooner trouble can be done with and victory celebrated.

I have even come to the point where I can pray for myself with this eternal perspective, although sometimes I let my immediate pain keep me in the make-it-stop! mindset, which usually just prolongs the agony and afflicts those around me with my bad attitude at the same time.

Well, one cure for a bad attitude is the realization that I can’t make it by myself. …                                                                      excerpted from  BARRIERS, Chapter 5

Prayer: Lord, we are in troubled times, yet we know that nothing happens that hasn’t gone through the filter of Your will. You have our attention. Please guide us in how to deal with our present circumstances with Christ-like attitudes, and help us to trust You in the things we have no control over, knowing that You love us more than anyone else can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

35 thoughts on “Are We Praying God’s Priorities?

  1. I agree. It’s difficult to watch others struggle, but if that’s what they must go through in order to finally surrender to Christ than I want God’s will to be done. Even so, I forget. I want short-term solutions rather than God’s long term plan.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Excellent post. God does care when we struggle but like you said He is more concerned about our spiritual state.
    I pray that this pandemic would turn people to God. And those of whom He has pointed out to declutter their life to focus more on Him, I hope that when things slowly start going back to normal old patterns will not be repeated.
    😊💙

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I agree with your insight. These days, there seems to be a “prayer “bomb” in every continent and nation. But God only wants His people to nurture an intimate relationship with Him regardless of the circumstances.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. So well put, Ann. I’m always mindful the struggles & hardships the faith-giants in scripture went through, including health issues. In the end of our hardships, only our faithfulness, our leaning on Him will matter. I know, for my life, my trainwrecks in life have strengthened my walk. God’s grip – Alan

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  5. I wonder if prayer is even what God would want. By that I mean shouldn’t people just live to be the best that they can be, treat others with love and compassion, and take life for what it is? What is really the purpose of asking God for help when if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you don’t need it? Just a thought that flitted into my head, nothing more. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you’re thinking about it, Brian. I must admit the thought never flitted into MY head that I would ever not need God’s help … or that I had ever done everything that I was supposed to be doing, for that matter :/
      I know God wants us to pray, because He (Jesus) kept saying “ask, and you’ll receive,” over and over. At the Last Supper He got to the point where He seemed frustrated when He finally said “Up until now you haven’t asked Me for anything – ASK…” I’m sure He wants to give us good things, but is frustrated because we keep asking Him for stupid stuff and get mad at what He does give us, because we don’t recognize that His plan is much better than ours.
      (Well, maybe not “WE,” I’m sort of speaking for myself here … 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent points! It reminds me of something I read in Jan Karon’s Mitford books. The character Father Tim refers frequently to “the prayer that never fails.” It took me several books to figure out he was talking about “thy will be done.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, Nora! Of course, some will ask, why bother to pray for what God’s going to do anyway? I have found that this prayer changes ME. When God does Hs will, even when it doesn’t fit my personal preference, I am able to see why it’s best and to rejoice, instead of doubting and complaining.

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  7. Well said.
    Although, I think it’s easier to see how “dumb” people are in books and movies. When WE are in question, it is much harder to see the cycle.
    When the pandemic started and I began to watch online mass, there were a lot more people watching that this past Sunday. I think the novelty is wearing off and people are starting to see “no church” as a part of their Sunday now. It worries me a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not our church! Yesterday on the live stream one of the pastors said that people had told him it was getting harder and harder to watch church on line, not because people didn’t have time, but because they were so SAD that we weren’t meeting in person. He said it was OK to feel sad, in fact it’s a GOOD thing that we’re missing one another, and that we can look forward all the more to getting back together. ❤
      I thought I had been doing well with the quarantine, spending more time alone with the Lord, but as soon as that pastor said it was OK to feel sad, I got so weepy for the rest of the service I could barely sing. It was as if I had been waiting for permission to grieve, and once I got it, the dam broke.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. So much wisdom in a short message. Thank you kindly for sharing your insight.

    I’ve never thought of prayer like this before. I was brought up to believe that prayer is our way of tabling our gratitude, concerns and worries to God, though I mostly used it as a means to transfer my aggressions on God. Life as a Christian is a constant struggle for me, and sometimes, in the face of insurmountable challenges, it’s hard to see God’s plan for me . . . it’s hard to see the bigger picture.

    My faith and trust in Him are the only things keeping me going. And I’m hopeful that the idea of building a relationship with Him is still feasible.

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  9. It is DEFINITELY feasible! The reason Jesus came was to fix the broken relationship between God and Man.
    When Jesus died on the Cross, He was paying for the sins that separated all of us from Him. I love the way when He died He declared “It is finished!” (“Paid in full”) (John 19:30) and the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn open from top to bottom (So GOD did it!) (Luke 23:45), removing the barrier between Man and God. ❤

    Like

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