The Unintended Consequences of Well-Meaning Prayers

(First, a personal note:  It finally caught up to me. I’m blaming my visit to Disneyland last week to celebrate a granddaughter’s graduation from middle school though I don’t know for sure if that’s where I got it. But early Monday morning, I came down with symptoms of COVID-19, and a test later that day confirmed it. I’m doing OK for the most part, except for an extremely painful sore throat and being forced into quarantine away from those I love.)

If you’ve been listening to the podcasts at The God Journey, you’ll know that the last three months have been quite a ride—from the brink of despair to the heights of great joy. If you’re missing that story, you can hear the first two of seven podcasts under the label: “Redeeming Love.” It’s the story of the enemy’s attempts to destroy our marriage to God’s victory over a trauma we didn’t even realize Sara had in her past. The first one aired on July 8, titled, The Unforeseen Circumstances, and the second is called What Sara Faced. The rest will follow on subsequent Fridays.

At the lowest point in this story, a close friend of mine saw how much pain I was in and held it with me. That night in a dream, he saw Jesus sitting on a park bench, so he went and sat with him. He then asked Jesus if there was anything he could do to take my pain away.

Jesus turned toward him and answered, “I can’t take his pain away without taking away his love for Sara.”

He shared that with me the next day, and I immediately knew it was a prayer I didn’t want Jesus to answer. If I were in excruciating pain because of my love, I would rather endure the pain than lose the love. And it made me think of other prayers I have prayed, not realizing the result I wanted may be at the expense of some greater good I wanted even more.

We want pain to go away; Jesus wants love to triumph. We rarely recognize the cost involved in the things we ask of him. While we seek comfort, he’s drawing us into the truth that will be our ultimate joy. That’s why if you only seek comfort in this broken world, don’t expect that it will lead you to God’s fullness. Some of his greatest gifts reveal themselves in our moments of pain and vulnerability.

Fortunately,  Jesus didn’t take my pain away and instead used it to re-shape my heart with what I needed to walk a different road he was asking of me. You can hear that in the podcasts as well. All of that has led Sara and me to far more spacious places of freedom and love than I could ever have imagined.

Paul was right, “momentary, light affliction” can work in us “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). No, it didn’t feel light or momentary at the time, but given what it has produced and who it helped rescue from the darkness overwhelming her heart, it seems so now. Who would have thought that those days of agony would bring such incredible healing and redemption?

I will never view prayer quite the same way again.

On an unrelated note, the next gathering of the Jake Colsen Book Club will be held Sunday, July 24 at 1:00 pm PDT. You’ll have to work that out in your time zone. We will cover Chapter 4 on why accountability is a horrible tool for discipleship and transformation. You can get a link to the Zoom Room by emailing Wayne and asking for it.

 

 

1 thought on “The Unintended Consequences of Well-Meaning Prayers”

  1. Hi Wayne,
    Some time ago, I realized that we really don’t know what love really is. We were taught what it was and we operate with those beliefs, but several time Jesus didn’t do what we believed love to be. Jesus said He only did what He saw Father doing, and at times it seemed strange. I realized that I/we were praying for what we thought Love would look like, without actually even checking with Father for what He was doing. I’ve slowed down in regard for what I’m asking for, now more just acknowledging that Father knows what is needed and asking Him to do that. I’ve always loved your heart Wayne and I know that what is happening is working out great things in yours and Sara’s lives.

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