“Thank you for God…”

Isaiah’s never learned the kids’ prayers that I grew up reciting…

God is great.  God is good.  Let us thank Him for our food.  Amen.

Instead, Isaiah’s meal time prayers sound a little more like this…

 Thank you for God and thank you for our food and thank you for Mama.  Amen.

Now there’s nothing wrong with the prayers that I always used as a kid.  I just wanted Isaiah to learn early on to pray his own words…so even before he could speak full sentences, we would ask him what he was thankful for.  Sometimes it was for Gunther (our dog).  Sometimes it was for Thomas the Train (or Lightening McQueen).  Sometimes he even wanted to thank God for unique things like “this piece of wood” (pointing to the table).  I wanted him to have a thankful heart and be aware of God’s blessings.

Now before bed every night, Isaiah and I kneel and pray together.  I’ll pray first…thanking God for things from the day, asking God to make Isaiah a boy that loves Him, and interceding for those that we care about.  Isaiah prays after me and lately I’v e felt like his simple prayers shame mine.

You see, no matter what or who we talk about praying for, Isaiah’s prayers start the same way…

Thank you for…

We’ve been praying for our friend, Brian, who, because of bad chemical burns (see “Traffic Delays and Rainbows”), has lost much of his sight.  He’s had all kinds of crazy treatments to bring healing to his eyes and most recently received cornea transplants (along with a whole lot of pain).

Thank you for fixing Brian’s eyes.

We’ve been praying for his friend, Brittian, who recently moved to Tennessee, but his family is still struggling to sell their house here in PA.  It’s been an extremely trying time for our dear friends.

Thank you for selling Brittian’s house.

We’ve been praying for one of my best friends, Casey, who for most of Isaiah’s life has needed a knee replacement surgery that insurance, thus far, has refused to pay for.  She’s been in pain almost constantly for the past 2 1/2 years.

Thank you for Casey and her knee.

At first I was a little discouraged by his prayers.  I wanted to say, “No, Isaiah, you need to ask God to…

Fix them.

Sell it.

Heal her.

But maybe God wanted me to model my prayers more after my 3 year old.

Sure, I don’t think my son has a full grasp on what he’s doing, saying, or praying.

But maybe I don’t either.

Isaiah’s confident prayers not only assume that God will do what we’re asking…but they also model gratitude  for the situations we’re laying at His feet.

In Paul E. Miller’s A Praying Life, he says this…

“To learn how to pray is to enter the world of a child, where all things are possible.  Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say yes.  They know if they keep pestering their parents, they’ll eventually give in.  Childlike faith drives this persistence.  But as we get older, we get less naive and more cynical.  Disappointment and broken promises are the norm instead of hoping and dreaming.  Our childlike faith dies a thousand little deaths.  Jesus encourages us to believe like little children by telling stories about adults who acted like children.”

The parable of the persistent widow, who won’t take no for answer (Luke 18:1-8).

The parable about a man who badgers his neighbor to lend him three loaves (Luke 11:5-8).

The Roman officer who is so confident in Jesus’ ability to heal his paralyzed servant (Luke 7:2-10).

The Canaanite woman who keeps coming back even after Jesus sends her away (Matthew 15:21-28).

Miller shows that believing the Gospel – knowing God’s acceptance of us in Jesus – helps us come to Him messy, as well as freeing us to ask confidently what is on our hearts.

Isaiah’s already thanking God for handling these situations that are on our hearts.  Do I pray like that?

But what about if God’s says…

“Not yet.”

“Not now.”

Or worst of all…

“No.”

“If Jesus were a magic prayer machine…If the miracle comes too quickly, there is no room for discovery, for relationship…Jesus is engaged in a divine romance, wooing us to himself.  The waiting that is the essence of faith provides that context for that relationship.” – Paul E. Miller

How do we ask confidently while at the same time being okay with the answer being no?  I so badly want to model Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer (Mark 14:36)…

“Abba, Father, everything this is possible for you…take this cup from me…”

Ask boldly.

“…Yet not what I will but what YOU will…”

Surrender completely.

For Jesus, God’s answer to this bold prayer was “no.”  God would be more glorified through Christ’s death and resurrection – giving us access to salvation – than by taking the cup of suffering away from His Son.

“When we don’t receive what we pray for or desire, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t acting on our behalf.  Rather, he’s weaving his story.  Paul tells us to ‘continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’ (Colossians 4:2).  Thanksgiving helps us to be grace-centered, seeing all of life as a gift.  It looks at how God’s past blessings impact our lives.  Watchfulness alerts us to the unfolding drama in the present.  It looks for God’s present working as it unfolds into future grace.” – Paul E. Miller

Isaiah has asked God boldly on behalf of our friends.  And I’m confident that God will answer those prayers…

Brian’s sight will definitely be restored.  He’s learning to see God more clearly, love his wife more deeply, and listen more attentively.

Brittian’s family’s house will eventually be sold.  But what they’re learning in the process – even when it hurts and is confusing – is worth more than a bank full of money.

Casey’s knee will be healed.  Perhaps not for a while.  Perhaps not this side of eternity, but God is and will continue to be glorified through her pain and suffering…and her heart will continue to be pressed closer up to the heart of Jesus.

So, I’m asking God to help me say, “Thank you” more.

Having a grateful heart regarding the situations he brings into my life.

Seeing His grace even when He chooses not to answer the way I want.

Showing my overwhelming thankfulness that He even chooses to hear me at all.

Living a life that reflects my gratitude and taking my cues from Isaiah…

“Thank you for God…”

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Colossians 4:2 (ESV)

Adam and Isaiah praying. September 2010

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5 responses

  1. Some amazing thoughts. I need this today as I’m helping Jordan hunt for a new job. He was laid off on Friday and struggling to see God’s hand in it. Thanks for the wonderful words of encouragement to be simple with my prayers.

  2. I really love that picture so much of your boys. Can’t believe you will have a third boy in your home so soon! Just realized you are totally totally totally outnumbered since even Gunther is a boy. 🙂 I admire your spirit of gratitude for the gifts God gives. It really goes along with what I’m reading in One Thousand Gifts.

  3. Just read this post… I hadn’t seen it before, but I have no doubt that it was God’ timing that I saw this today. His timing, His will be done, not mine. My strength comes from the fact that He will use this time, for growth, for healing & ultimately bring glory to Him. God bless you & thank you for this.

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