Prayer Transforms—Prayer Changes Me

You’ve heard it said that prayer changes things. Well, sometimes.

Sometimes we see God answer our prayers through changed circumstances or hearts, but other times things don’t change. The house goes into foreclosure. The divorce is finalized. The cancer rages on and finally wins the battle. For whatever reason, God, in his infinite—and loving—wisdom has not seen fit to change the thing we’ve brought to him in prayer time and again.

But one thing I’ve found to be true about prayer is that even when God doesn’t grant the change I desire— when he says “no” or “wait”—prayer still brings about change. It changes me.

As I bring my burdens to him in prayer, changes take place in my heart. Sometimes they’re dramatic and instantaneous, but more often than not, they blossom a step at a time as God does the work in my life that will draw me closer to him, that will conform me into his image.

Anxiety and worry melt into peace and calm assurance in my heavenly Father. Anger and unforgiveness grow into grace, like the grace given so freely to me. Bitterness that may have crept in gets uprooted while negative feelings about someone are replaced by compassion and love. My wisdom and need to control give way to the blessed relief of trusting utterly in him.

So even when it seems prayer is not changing circumstances the way I’d like, I’m grateful to know that coming to God in prayer is indeed doing a transforming work. I’m grateful to know that prayer changes me. How about you?

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV

*When has the Lord changed you as you’ve prayed to him?

*I hope you enjoyed this encore post from February 2011!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out in early February. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by kabilsCreative Commons License

A Painful Mercy

Sometimes God says no to our most earnest requests. We plead, we bargain, we pour out our hearts’ deepest desire and still he doesn’t give us the answer we long for. Other times his answer is wait. And sometimes we’ve already waited an excruciatingly long time as it is.

These answers of no and wait—and wait some more—can really hurt. After all, we’re not talking about casual, wouldn’t-it-be-nice kinds of requests. We’re talking about earnest requests. Requests born of desperation, heartache, and deep need. So when our deepest desires are not granted, the accompanying pain and disappointment run deep as well.

What we may not realize is that God’s painful no or wait  may in fact be a painful mercy. He alone knows all the results a yes might bring. He alone knows the future. When it appears he’s withholding our heart’s desire, he instead may be saving us from an even greater grief.

Many of you know that our family has been experiencing a season of waiting for quite some time now. During this period, the answer no has been our portion time and again. We’ve dealt with heartache over and over and have not understood why God is answering the way he is.

But what if we—and what if you in your situation—could see into the future, could see what God sees. Maybe our family would see a turn of events that would be more devastating than the current answer of no or keep waiting. How about you? What might you see in your future? I think we all might see that God’s no may in fact be a painful mercy.

It all boils down to trust, doesn’t it? Even when the answers we want don’t come, will we trust God? Will we continue to believe that he loves us and has good things in store for us? Will we acknowledge that he may be planning to give us something even better than our original request?

Don’t get me wrong—trust is not a pat answer. Trust doesn’t negate the pain. But it does bring peace. It does keep hope alive. It does acknowledge that God alone knows the future and that he will indeed walk with us through times of painful mercy.

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

*Have you experienced a painful mercy in your life?

*Flickr photo by minniemouseaunt