July 4, 2014

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Make time to meet God—early and often—in prayer

Patti LambThere’s a certain situation about which I’ve been praying lately. And when I say “praying,” I mean storming heaven like nobody’s business.

Day in and day out, Patti’s Prayer Patrol reported for duty.

A friend who shared the concern about which I’d been praying gently challenged me one afternoon.

“Maybe it’s time to do more than pray,” she said. She suggested that it was time to take matters into our own hands.

I explained that I didn’t feel called to take action because, in my humanity, I just didn’t know what to do in this situation.

I’ve learned that when I try to intervene and take control of a situation according to what I think is best, things go awry. I’m not the all-knowing one. That’s God. When I try to exert my will, I often find out later that God’s plans were ultimately much better, even if they didn’t seem so at the time.

That’s when I told her that I felt called to pray, but not to act. This was a case for God. My best course of action was to pray—for discernment and for peace for everyone involved.

I could tell that she was disappointed in me. She implied that prayer alone wouldn’t tackle this issue.

That evening, I read a passage in my favorite book, God Calling. It said:

“The world, my poor world, flies to me when its difficulties are too great to be surmounted any other way, forgetting, or never realizing that if, with the same eagerness, those hearts sought me merely for companionship … many of the difficulties would not arise. Seek me early, before I get crowded out by life’s troubles, difficulties and pleasures.”

How often our approach is backward. We forget to embrace God from the outset. Instead, we take the reins ourselves and then offer to hand them over to God when we’re in trouble.

We pray for solutions to situations when, if Christ had been invited to guide us from the start, we might have approached those situations differently.

This world will never be perfect because we’re human and we’re all sinners and we hurt others—most times unintentionally.

We’ve got to remember that God is the captain, and he runs this ship. Our primary objective should be to get in tune with him. Then everything else will shake out.

I wholeheartedly acknowledge that this is easier said than done. Usually, I don’t know if I’m “hearing” God correctly when I pray. That’s why I like to add a petition for discernment. I’ve read that discernment is “a decision-making process that seeks to align our own will with the will of God,” so that we can learn where God is leading us.

Pray—especially to discern—and then act. Not the other way around.

Too often, we get it backward. But we must remind ourselves that every decision, every undertaking, every “anything” should start with God.

He will not disappoint us. Life is no cakewalk and there will be times when all we can say is, “I believe, but I don’t understand.”

I reflect on the scene after the crucifixion when friends removed Jesus’ body from the cross. His followers’ faith was shaken. They felt defeated, not knowing that the best was yet to come: The Resurrection and eternal life for all of us.

God’s ways might not be in direct alignment with ours, but we’ve got to trust him to work it all out. And we must meet him—early and often—in prayer.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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