Editor's Note: Today we have another great piece from Christy Gualtieri. Be sure to check her out on Twitter @agapeflower117 on Twitter and on the interwebs at asinglehour.wordpress.com.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but there’s this meme that went around a bunch last year when the Powerball Lottery reached an insane payout of over a billion dollars. It’s of a man kneeling in prayer, with the caption: “Lord, please let me win the lottery and show you that money won’t change me.”
I was thinking recently about how I pray (and how I should pray) and about how 99% of my prayer is asking for things, like God is some sort of genie that can’t contain Himself over His excitement of getting to carry out my will. I pray for some things to happen (and sometimes they do...I mean, I can’t say I didn’t pray heavily for the Pittsburgh Penguins to win the Stanley Cup this year, so there you go) and I sometimes pray for things not to happen.
And let’s be clear - I try to ask for good things, not gross things, like John the Baptist’s head on a platter. Which was an awful thing to do, Salome.
Hey Mom, for my birthday, could I get a $50 gift card to the Gap?
No. To buy what, like one sweater? Ask for the head of John the Baptist for me on a plate.
Look, it’s really not that big a deal. You’ll want it. Trust me.
...Yeah, I really just wanted the gift card.
When things inevitably do not go the way I want them to, then I get confused, and angry, and fearful. I think I have things all planned out for what’s best for me and for others, and when they don’t work out, then I find my faith dwindling. Doesn’t God want what’s best for me -- the way I see it, anyway?
I know deep down that it’s really a control issue. I’m afraid of the goodness of a powerful God, because that might mean that God is calling me to do something that won’t feel very comfortable, and I like feeling comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that most times in prayer, I don’t even really stick around in the conversation much past my asking for things.
Dear God, Thank You for this day. Also, could the Pens please win the Stanley Cup this year? I’d love that, and it’d be great for the city, and with the year they’ve had…[pause]...Okay, byeeeeee!
Trust me, I know how obnoxious that sounds (and how obnoxious I am). But I don’t think I’m very alone. I guess the hope is that with time and prayer, I’ll move past the point in my life where I see God as a Divine Vending Machine and begin to see the pendulum of praise, adoration, and surrender swing back into focus.
Because as great as a Divine Giver as God is, He is so much more than that. And to see Him as just an answerer of prayers cheapens Him, tarnishes our faith as a whole, and sells us short to both ourselves and to the whole world, really.
And I understand how hard it is to know that and how hard it is to keep falling into the temptation to ask and want to receive without consequence, but I also understand that God’s mercy can be pretty abundant - maybe abundant enough to work on a sinner like me!
Pray for me, friends! I’ll pray for you too.