I ask God for a lot of things. I am praying to him all the time, asking him for wisdom, for his plan to unfold, for things to happen or for more faith, joy and hope, and to move in the lives of the people around me. Most of my prayers are said in frustration, with fear or an undertone of anger. I’m tired of feeling like a slave and I want God to come through and change the situation. I’m tired of broken relationships and I want God to come and repair them. I’m tired of feeling like there is no plan for my life and I want God to unfold the map already.
But something was missing from my prayers, if you can even call them that, they were more like outbursts from a desperate child. I was expecting God to change things without acknowledging that I was doing anything wrong. I was not repenting of my wrong thinking, my wrong actions or my unbelief in him. I was expecting him to preform a miracle of healing without acknowledging I was even sick.
2 Chronicles 7:14
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
This is the order or prayer, call upon the name of the Lord, humble yourself and pray and seek his face, turning form your wicked ways, then he will hear you and forgive you and restore. When I prayed I was jumping right to asking for restoration and demanding to be heard, and then felt angry when nothing would happen.
I remember when I was a child and would whine to my mom about something. She would not turn her face to me but would look right over top of me and say, “Is someone speaking? I hear a sound but I can’t hear any words. Is someone talking?” In frustration I would whine louder and pull at her clothing. She would be unmoved. “Is someone speaking?” Then looking down she would say, “Oh! Someone is there! I can’t hear you, I don’t understand whining. Try using a normal voice.” I would muster up all the strength in me and try to talk without whining. My mom would then look at me and hear me. She did this anytime any of us would whine and it curbed my behaviour quick because I truly thought my mom didn’t understand whining as much as she didn’t understand German.
God refers to us as his children all the time. Sometimes I think God doesn’t understand our whining either, or spoiled brat attitudes, or our demanding rage. He does, however, understand humility. When we come to him with a heart of humility it is easy to repent of our wrongs because he reveals them to us in love. Romans 2:4 says that the love of God leads us into repentance. We cannot change our ways if we do not first acknowledge that the way we were doing something was wrong. How can we expect God to give us more faith if we do not repent of our unbelief? How can we expect God to give us wisdom if we do not repent of our unwise thinking? How do we expect God to show us his way, if we do not acknowledge we were trying to go our own way first?
I’m doing it wrong, show me how to do it right.
“People who conceal their sins will not prosper,
but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Mercy is a form of compassion, but to obtain compassion from Christ we need to admit that we were wrong, we’re doing it wrong. Asking God for a breakthrough in your finances? Admit you’re handling your money wrong and repent of a lack of stewardship, then ask him for wisdom. Asking God for a breakthrough in broken relationships? Admit your own pride and wrongdoings in the relationship to God, repenting of the ways you have done wrong, then ask God for compassion and restoration. Wanting to know the path for your life? Put your map down, admitting you drew it yourself and it’s wrong, then ask God for his ways.
God is not waiting to smite us for our sins, he is waiting to save us from them, waiting to give us the wisdom needed to do better, but he cannot do this if we cannot admit we were wrong in the first place. There is no wisdom to be had if we do not realize we are being unwise. Repentance is a remorse of something done wrong, a desire to do it differently and to do it better.
I desire nothing more than for God to come and heal the land, to show me my path that he has called me to, to lead my family into full restoration, but I need to realize that I’m may be going about it all wrong. I need to humble myself before him and admit my unbelief, my need to control, that my gaze has been on the world, fearful of outcomes and not on him, trusting him. I need to admit that I’m stubborn, that I think I know what is best.
What is it that you are asking God for, what are your prayers full of? Start by repenting of your wrong way of thinking or doing in these areas, giving up what is taking space is your mind and heart, then ask God to fill you with the answers.