Lately, God has been growing me through unanswered prayers...
...which is actually a little funny, because He has simultaneously been growing a spiritual gift of intercessory prayer. I have witnessed wild types of answered prayer for other people, and I continue to receive nudges to pray very specifically for people in my life.
But in my own life?
I've been struggling with praying for myself. I have seen how He has answered prayers for us in times past, but lately... well, there's this one prayer. This one massive prayer that I have been begging Him for for a long time.
If you have a young baby, you might be praying for it too.
Maybe not in the early months -- when you expect to have little 3-4 hour chunks here and there, but later on -- when all the rest of the kids are "sleeping through the night."
It has to do with sleep. I am desperate for sleep. Every night, and every day, I pray and beg Him that Gwen will start sleeping through the night -- and I mean, the 7 pm - 7 am one. Heck, I'd even take 7 pm - 5 am or something like that. Or even 4 am. But night after night, I struggle with my own depravity as I feel anger boiling in me against the Lord. "Why won't you answer this prayer??" I accuse. I whine. I moan. I think I deserve better.
I deserve nothing.
And I've turned a corner.
It was a couple weeks ago at the Jubilee conference: A handful of our students answered an altar call to the front -- a call to live for Jesus in all areas of life. And one by one, as I saw them go up to the front, God gave me specific things to pray for in each of their lives. To be honest, I didn't know most of them very well, but I suddenly felt very close to each of them as God was making their needs known to me.
That's when I broke down -- to my knees -- and cried in prayer.
"What about me, God?" I asked. "What about me and my prayers?"
Then the Holy Spirit answered and gave me the realization: I was blinded by myself. For others, I can be objective -- waiting on the Holy Spirit's prompting for prayers -- but not for myself. I was expecting God to be the genie instead of the wise Sovereign Lord that He is. I was expecting Him to say, "YES," just because I had this spiritual gift of intercessory prayer.
I barely need remind myself (but I will) of the fact that Jesus himself -- the Lord himself -- received a "NO" answer from the Father. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed...
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me."
God didn't take the cup of suffering from Jesus. No. Jesus suffered greatly, enduring humanity's sins so that we who call Jesus our Lord will not suffer for our sins. God the Father knew the whole story -- He knew what was best. And Jesus really knew that too, because in the second part of that prayer, he says, "Not my will but Yours be done."
That second part? Yeah, I wasn't-so-much praying that second part.
So I've taken a step back.
I've decided to approach all prayer with silence first.
And I wait for the Holy Spirit's prompting before I utter a word.