I Stopped Praying for Things, and It Strengthened My Faith

11001935_10152843388074818_2261632969863150391_nFollow me for long enough and you’ll know that I certainly didn’t get my tattoo on a whim. The concept of immeasurably more has been something I talk about pretty constantly.

The phrase comes from Ephesian 3:20 which says “And to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” In our family the phrase has been adopted into something we say whenever things aren’t seemingly going our way. You’ll hear “well, this must just be another immeasurably more thing.” What we mean is that we are so incredibly small in our humanity, that we simply cant even begin to imagine big enough to really ask for God’s very best – so when things aren’t going the way we want, we simply aren’t able to imagine or ask big enough to see the whole picture. We have learned to trust that God’s best will always come through in the end, and it will always be immeasurably more than the things we thought we originally wanted. We’ve seen this truth play out time and time again in our lives in very tangible and memorable ways, so it’s become the truth we come back to time and again when times are hard.

And right now? Times are hard. My husband is still unemployed despite so many seemingly promising leads and opportunities. Unemployment still hasn’t made a single payment to us even though they owe us thousands of dollars at this point. We recently experienced a surprise pregnancy only to endure our 7th miscarriage to date. Its been a stream of situations that seem unfair and disappointing. But it’s in a time like this, clinging to the truth of immeasurably more becomes all the more essential to getting through. Having this truth tattooed permanently across my wrist ensures that I have no choice to remember it daily and meditate on it often. Recently my study of this phrase has lead me to a whole new understanding, and a deepening of my faith. You see, this past month believing in this truth has lead me to practice a new discipline in my prayers: I have stopped praying for the things I want. I know this sounds absolutely bizarre, but let me explain – and you might just come to understand your own faith in a whole new way too.

I haven’t stopped praying this past month, quite the opposite. I find myself in a near constant state of prayer: crying out to God both silently and out loud through my day to day tasks. Rather its the content of these prayers that have so radically changed. It started when my husband began to take promising interviews for possible job opportunities. The natural inclination in a situation like that is to pray desperately for the interview to go well and for it to ultimately end in a restoration of employment. But we are no stranger to this whole situation, and I’ve seen how that can end in the past. We would get our hopes up about a particular position, start to pray constantly for it to materialize, and then when it didn’t go our way we would feel heartbroken and let down – sometimes even resentful that God would seemingly lead us towards and opportunity only to take it away. Yet the more I meditate and studied this concept of immeasurably more, the more a new truth became increasingly clear. If I truly believe He has my best in mind, and I truly believe His best is all too often better than what I can even imagine to ask for? Then praying for specifics is the very antithesis of acting in that truth. When I pray for specifics, I open my heart to potential letdown and bitterness if things don’t go my way, and its too easy to ask for things that turn out to be less than God’s very best.

idontprayspecificsSo what is the alternative? This past month I have spent a lot of time studying that very question and applying the truths it’s brought me to. Instead of praying for any particular job or seemingly ideal solution to our situation, I have begun praying for my heart and mind to be more deeply rooted in His will and His truths. I pray for God to sustain our faith. I pray that His will be done, no matter the specifics. I pray that he adjust my attitude and align my heart closer to His own, that I will be led to seek after His very best and be open to receive whatever He has in store for us. I pray that our testimony be visible to others in this time. I pray that He teach me to recognize and receive all His good and perfect gifts, and that He give me the faith to see even the things that seem like disappointments as His loving act of sparing us from less than his best. I have stopped focusing on the things I think I want, and started focusing on who I know God to be. Rather than asking for specific circumstances, I’m asking for the wisdom to see His truths and the faith to openly accept His timing.

And the results? It’s been incredible – not just in the specifics of how He has been providing for us in this time, but in the deepening of my faith and my relationship with Him. Immeasurably more has become even more true to me, and the truths I’m able to glean from it’s application have only grown. Does this mean I believe that no one should pray for ANY specifics? Not at all. There is no shame in bringing your hearts deepest desires to the Lord in the intimacy of prayer. I’m finding though that it’s a truly faith strengthening discipline to set aside a certain time period, or specific situation , and admit that our human hearts all to often deceive us and the things we want most may ultimately be less than God’s best. By actively choosing to surrender ourselves to His will in such a specific way, we not only deepen our dependence on Him, but we begin to focus more on who God is and less on what He can do for us.

The truth of immeasurably more continues to play out in our life and each and every day right now, and the more I lean into it the more I find myself excited about seeing how God’s best ends up unfolding in our situation. I don’t know what His plan for us is, but I do know who He is, and for right now that’s more than enough – it’s immeasurably more than enough.

*I’ve started creating some Immeasurably More items for sale on my Zazzle, both to help bring some much needed income in for my family but also to spread a little hope and inspiration.