Friday, October 26, 2012

The Prayer Diaries

This week has been a whirlwind, not just in terms of my schedule, but also emotionally, and I just want to really share from my heart with you all, my readers, about what God has been doing in my life lately. It's hard for me to really expose myself and be vulnerable in my writing, but I really think what I want to say could be helpful for some of you experiencing similar things.

So there are some things I've been praying for literally this entire year. I know that in the grand scheme of life, that's not that long at all--many people have faithfully prayed for years before they've seen their prayers answered, and some may never see those answers. At least not this side of heaven. But I am still quite young, and this is about the longest period I've ever prayed, at least consistently, for something and seen absolutely no answer. And I have worked hard, so hard, to make the things I'm praying for a reality, but that hasn't changed the situation either. When that's the case, it can make you feel overwhelmed by inefficacy, like nothing you're doing is even mattering. And it makes you feel desperate, grieving over needs that appear to be going unmet.

I'm not sure why this has been the case, but I've also noticed that several times in this journey, my hardest and most intense prayers have been immediately followed by the situation becoming worse, not better. It had gotten to the point where I was scared to pray anymore, because it seemed to only make things worse. That was what happened on Tuesday, and I was so discouraged by it, I really didn't even know what to do anymore. It honestly felt like the prayer was sabotaging my efforts, not helping them. I wanted to say to God, "You do realize that I still NEED this, right? I wouldn't ask you for it if I didn't really need it, and it's not going to go away--I'm not going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly not need it anymore."

Have you ever wished there was some magic formula to ensure that your prayers would result in getting what you asked for? I sure have. I've thought, "Lord, if there is something you want me to do or say or be before you'll answer this prayer, just tell me what it is and I'll do it!" You start to feel like you're literally strategizing to figure out how to get the answer you need so much, instead of just letting God do the work. And it can leave you feeling like God has simply let you down--I know that's not the "Christian" thing to say or feel, but that's exactly how it feels.

Then on Thursday this week, I got some great news. It wasn't by any means the complete answer to my prayers, but it was a HUGE step in that direction. And today was another big step. And I am now closer than I've been all year to having this huge need met and this desire fulfilled. But I'm not there yet, and I know that this may not be the beginning of the answer that I think it is. And I am so close, but I'm honestly scared to get my hopes up too high. I got home tonight and didn't really know how to feel. I was so happy for the progress that had been made, but also so apprehensive, because if it doesn't work out now, it will be the biggest disappointment yet. I felt happy, but also stressed out about how this will end up, and totally worn out from this whole process. And I would rather have never made those steps this week if they're not going to take me all the way.

But then I realize that I am not in control--God is in control. (The control freak inside of me positively cringed when I just wrote that). I am not a patient person, y'all, and I also like to have all my ducks in a row, so it is so hard for me to relinquish control and wait for the Lord. Especially when you've waited for weeks, and months, and maybe even years, and you have to keep waiting.

I was tempted tonight to stop praying now, for several reasons. One is that I'm, like, one phone call (that I may or may not get) away from having this prayer answered anyway, so I feel so close it's tempting to just stop now. The other reason is that, like I said, I'm afraid to get my hopes up about this because I've been disappointed so many times during this journey, but the essence of prayer is hope, right? It's not really possible to pray without hoping, so if I am to continue to pray, I must contine to hope. And we can't stop asking God for what we need and want deeply: after all, he asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?" and he longs to know our deepest desires.

But I decided that I will not stop praying, because when you've been running a marathon, no matter how tired you are or how close you are to being done, you never, ever walk across the finish line. No, you sprint across. And that's exactly what I'm going to do, even if the finish line is further away than I think. I will just keep running.

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