O Lord, hear me praying; listen to my plea, O God my King, for I will never pray to anyone but you. Each morning I will look to you in heaven and lay my requests before you, praying earnestly. [Psalm 5:1-3 (TLB)]
The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says “Amen” and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas. [Frank Laubach]
I just came across several “Nancy” comic strips I’d saved. Written by Guy Gilchrist, they have to do with prayers. In one, Nancy says, “I know you turned water into wine,” and then looks up and asks, “Ever thought about turning Brussels sprouts into ice cream?” In a Sunday comic, Nancy starts with a litany of thanks to God for always being there, showing her the way, filling her heart and giving her just what she needs before she even knows she wants it. “You are an amazing God!” she offers in praise before adding, “Could you throw me a couple answers before my math test tomorrow?”
At least Nancy started out right with thanks and praise before voicing her request. More often than not, we probably skip right over those and get right into prayers like hers—fixing prayers—prayers to change what we don’t like and prayers to solve our problems. I hope she’s not disappointed when her Brussels sprouts continue to taste like cabbage with a broccoli twist or she misses a few long division problems on the test.
If our prayers seem to go unanswered, I wonder if the problem lies with us and our prayers rather than an unresponsive God. Instead of asking Him to bless and enable what it is we want to have or do, perhaps we should spend more time asking God to direct our interests, actions and causes, knowing that the He will surely bless whatever it is He wants us to have or do. Rather than asking God to change the world to please us, maybe we need to ask him to change us so we can please Him.
In the third “Nancy” comic, the usually cheerful little girl is lying on a hillside and crying. “I wonder if God knows how bad I feel,” she sobs. The next several squares show her weeping as the clouds change into words. In the last panel, she sits up and sees this message in the sky: “Peace be with you.” With a faint smile, the tearful little girl says, “He knows.” While God isn’t likely to transform hated vegetables into tasty desserts or provide the answers to arithmetic tests, He will always assure us of His love and bless us with His peace.