Saturday, 19 May 2012

After your own heart

Hello, God.

I've found new way of looking at things. 

Well, it might not be new for you, for obvious reasons, and indeed it might not be new for people wiser than I, but I was reading something and this stood out. I carried on reading but my eye came back to this sentence.
'And real prayer isn't about changing God's mind but about finding God's heart - and letting His heart change my mind.'
Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience (

How often do I pray to try and get you to do something for me? How often do I somehow assume that you're reluctant to give me what I want; indeed more likely to be planning the polar opposite, and so somehow by begging and persuading, I might change your mind? 

Why do I think of you like that? I know you are patient and loving and generous and compassionate. Slow to anger and abounding in love and all that. I know that you are my Father who loves to give me good gifts. I know that because I know you. So why do I find myself talking to you this way?

Are you up there?
Prayer. I am not very good at it. 

I realise that my prayers are mostly arrow prayers. Mostly 'Lord, help so-and-so, will you?' Or even shorter still, ''HE-ELP!' when I'm in a corner or at the end of my tether, when Katy's having a tantrum or Lizzie's in a sulk and I can feel my temper mounting. 

I read of the great characters in Christian history from the Bible to modern times who wrestle in prayer for days and nights on the trot. St Paul tells us to pray continually.

I pray sporadically. I often fall asleep before I get to 'Amen'. I often drift off into my own thoughts and never come back. I often put it off all together and read a book instead. 

So praying until I know you so well that I find your heart? Praying myself in tune with you? Praying until your will becomes mine?  I'm miles away. 

I think I understand this concept, though. I can see that the more time I spend with you, the more you rub off on me. A bit like a childhood friend that I hung around with - after a while I adopted some of their mannerisms and turns of phrase. The things they liked I began to like and their views became mine. Only when I hang around a lot with you then I become a better person, not just a different one. 

It also makes me wonder why I always think you're going to ask me to do something that I don't want to do. Why I often think that if something means a lot to me, then you're likely to ask me to give it up. This makes no sense to me even as I do it. I know you for who you are. I know you've made me as I am for a reason and although I am still a work in progress you aren't going to alter the very me-ness of me, because you don't make mistakes. The essence of me is what you made it, quite deliberately, and so my deepest longings and hopes and dreams are God-given. Why would I assume that you set me up only to thwart me?

Forgive me, Father, for this view of you. Forgive me when I infect others with this way of thinking about you. I'm sorry that I sell you so short. 

You are my loving Father and you want what is best for me. The more I understand the way that you think, the more I will agree with your assessment of a situation. The more in tune we are, the more I will be asking for the things you want to give me. The more like you I am, the better. 

I do want to know your heart, God. I do want to be faithful in prayer. I know very well that prayer changes things, so why don't I do more of it?  I know that exercise makes me healthy, but I don't do much of that either, come to think of it. Laziness?  Don't like that idea much. Might be uncomfortably close to the truth.

Lord, I could finish here by promising to spend an hour a day on my knees. Or (as I have done, to my shame, many times before) by swearing that I intend to find a time daily or weekly where I will find a quiet ten minutes to read my Bible and spend time with you. I've said that I will and then I haven't. I'm still out there in the wilderness when it comes to finding this promised land. 

So what shall I say? Help me to make a step towards it. Give me an idea where I should start. How about that?  
'The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.'
James 5:16

Baby steps. Prayer changes things. 

I want to be a woman after your own heart.

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