If you ask your closest friend to do something for you, do you step back and forget about it and are surprised when they do it? Or do you wait expectantly for them to do as you’ve asked? If one of my friends asked me for something within my power to give, I wouldn’t be able to rest until I got it done. But if my friend asked me to do something for her and then she acted as though it weren’t important, I don’t know if I would be as urgent in completing her request.
If she weren’t actively looking for an answer to her request, I might not make it a priority. Because if she doesn’t care enough about what she’s asked for to look for it, is it really something I need to spend my time doing?
Today’s verse is Colossians 4:2.
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
When I first read today’s verse, I actually read it in the Message. And this is what it says in the Message:
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.
It’s nice too. But I don’t think it’s grasping the specific meaning of this verse, if I’m reading the English translation correctly. On first read, this verse seemed (to me) to be saying two separate things, Pray diligently and Stay alert.
It’s good to pray diligently. It’s good to be stay alert. Both of those are good to do separately, but they’re even better to do at the same time, which is actually what this verse is talking about. For a little more specific focus, check out the Amplified Version:
Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving.
I’m good at praying. I pray a lot. God and I are pretty much on very earnest speaking terms. I tell Him everything. I tell Him things I won’t tell anyone else, including my best friends. There are just some parts of me that are reserved for Him and Him alone.
But I’ll tell you what I’m not good at: expecting.
Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten my hopes up too many times. Maybe it’s because my dreams haven’t come true so many times. And I trust Him completely, because even if He hasn’t answered my requests exactly like I would want, He has always answered. And it’s good that I haven’t gotten what I wanted when I wanted it because He knows what’s better for me anyway. But it’s difficult for me to ask Him for something and then wait expectantly for Him to answer. Why? Because I want Him to answer the way I want, not necessarily the way I need.
But this verse doesn’t say to pray to God and forget about what you’ve asked Him for. No. It says pray (earnestly, unwearied, and steadfastly) and be both alert and intent in your prayers. What does that mean?
That means, ask God for something and watch for Him to answer.
How many of us do that? How many of us remain alert after we ask Go for something. I don’t. Deep down, I’m afraid that He won’t answer. Or that I won’t like His answer. So I ask Him and then to guard my heart, I conveniently step back from it.
But what does that say about how much I want what I’m asking for? To me, backing away from a request after I’ve made it, show disinterest, like I don’t really care. And that’s not the message I want to send. Yes, God knows my heart. Yes, He knows what I’m going to ask for before I ask for it. But in humility, we need to tell Him what we want. And then, with gratitude, we need to watch for His answer — no matter what it is.
The trick is to want His will more than anything else. The goal is to desire His plan above any desire in your heart, to want His dream more than yours. And that’s difficult to do. And, yes, I believe God gives us dreams for a reason. He’s created us to be who we are for a purpose, and he’s put us in specific places in order for us to make a difference. But our dreams won’t make a difference until they sync up with His.
Maybe this is taken out of context. But I don’t think so. Remember how Jesus prayed just before the crucifixion in Matthew 26:39?
“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus wanted something. If possible, He didn’t want to go to the cross. Who can blame Him? He asked God if there were any other way. But before He waited for an answer, He recognized that God’s plan was better than what He felt like.
So the next time you ask God for something, don’t forget to stay alert and watch for His answer with thankfulness. And even as you ask, make sure you really are content with God’s will above your own. His plan is better. But you have to believe that. Because if you don’t, when you don’t get the answer you want, it will throw you.