Monday, March 24, 2008

It's not what we want

We came back from our holiday on the Oregon Coast last night. Had a great time: walking on the beach and on the park trails and doing lots of reading...and thinking. So good how being away helps give you a fresh perspective on life and on the things you want to do. I hope to have more of these get-aways in a couple of months when the weather is better. The weather for us wasn't great, but we did see the sun a bit and even sat outside in our chairs a couple of times, enjoying the fresh air.

One book I've been enjoying very much is Philip Yancey's Prayer. I had read most of this book about a year ago but became overwhelmed. Amazing how much Yancey finds to talk about on one topic. Recently I started again at the beginning, this time doing the reading in small bites. It's a lot easier to digest that way.

One neat thing I read that had a big impact on me was how prayer is not necessarily answered as we envision. In the end it's God's will, not our will, that will be done. Even Jesus, when he prayed at Gethsemane prayed "Your will be done" at the end of his struggle with God, asking God for a way out of the crucifixion that awaited him. It's a submission to God's will.

Yancey said, "In the end, I learn that God has ordained prayer as a means of getting God's will done on earth, not ours. Yes, God hears and responds to my requests. Yes, God somehow incorporates those requests into a plan of action on earth. But as many martyrs have learned, including God's own Son as well as Christians in the persecuted church today, we do not always get what we earnestly desire."

Yancey quotes Eugene Peterson: "Praying most often doesn't get us what we want but what God wants, something quite at variance with what we conceive to be in our best interests."

But we need to continue praying. We need to keep the relationship with God a close one by praying often. It's in that way that we will learn to discern what his will is and we can do our part in bringing that about. Yancey continues discussing further in his book, we are partners with God. "God does very little on earth without the likes of you and us."

For me, prayer helps me find direction for my life and my work. Prayer has helped me find courage to do things that used to scare me.

Today I'm praying that my publisher will decide to publish my new book. I have done all I can to try to make that happen. But if it doesn't, I will just have to accept that it wasn't God's will for them to do it. I pray, waiting with expectation, but also in a state of surrender. It's in God's hands now.


my life with bipolar disorder said...

So glad you are back, Marja. Good of you to have a retreat.

I am glad you shared about prayer and the necessity to submit to God's will when God does not answer according to our desires. God knows what is best for us. Many times I prayed and God didn't answer. I used to be very disappointed. But now when I looked back, I understand a little why God didn't answer according to my desires. And I see His mercies and faithfulness in working things out in His ways which are much better than my ways or my desires. Truly He cares for us and His ways are higher than our ways!

Praying with you for the Lord's guidance and leading regarding the publication of your book. Take care.

Jenalexa said...

Hi Marja,
Thank you so much for your encouragement on prayer. What a good reminder, and good example that you lead. It must be difficult in some ways, just leaving your great achievement in God's hands to determine how He chooses to use it. You are brave and yet so humble, Marja. I need a bit more of that faith in my own life. Thanks again for being a wonderful teacher. xoxo