Prayer: Conflict Resolution with God

Unable to sleep despite needing to sleep, I went downstairs for the next best thing – coffee. I paced the length of my kitchen as the machine sputtered. The coffee maker struggled to brew as I struggled to order my thoughts.

I began speaking aloud to the Lord, using Him as a sounding board for my broken logic and heightened emotions. He listened patiently. He gave me all the time I needed to verbally rearrange the pieces of the puzzle… in vain.

Sometimes prayer goes like that. It isn’t so much a laundry list of “Please do these things for me, Lord,” as it is a wrestling match to align my heart with His on matters.

image via wikipedia/Jason M. Carter

His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways (Isaiah 55:9). Sometimes we have to fight for understanding. Sometimes we have to settle for peace without clarity, but even that doesn’t always come without an altercation with God.

Our broken minds are inclined to believe a lot of things that aren’t true, especially about ourselves and about God (see Jacob – Genesis 32). So it’s no wonder we have to spend a lot of time with God – the Spirit of Truth – to sort out our right thinking from our wrong thinking (John 16:13). Part of “fight[ing] the good fight of the faith” is mentally fighting the inclination to believe falsehoods (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10:5).

He doesn’t take offense to our (respectfully) arguing with Him (see Moses – Exodus 3-4). He knows that’s part of the process. He delights that we’re speaking honestly with Him, seeking to reconcile our perceptions of reality with who He is and what His Word says. And He knows it is hard and exhausting at times (see Jesus – Luke 22:44).

He never expects us to will ourselves to believe things we struggle to comprehend. Mostly because He knows we can’t. And He certainly doesn’t expect us to pretend we trust Him when we don’t.

Instead, He invites us to come to Him in conversation and work things out. He knows that it is through this wrestling process that our hearts will learn to value what He values and trust His character.

If your heart is overwhelmed, put on your singlet, pop in your mouthpiece, and get on the mat with the Lord.

Until

It’s not often I can squeeze two articles out of one verse in scripture, but here goes.

Last week I wrote about Hosea 10:12, which says, “…break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord…”

I stopped there not because I like to take verses out of context to use them for my own agenda but because the rest of the verse packs it’s own punch and warrants an examination all by itself.

“…for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”

See?  I told you it was fantastic.

A lot of us seek the Lord.  We may even ask Him two or three times for something if it is super important to us.  But then we stop.  We get tired of asking.  We get frustrated at His less than instantaneous response.  Or we simply forget.  This happens to me most often when I am praying for someone else.   Typical self-centered me says, “That person’s request has nothing to do with me.  Therefore, as soon as I pray for it this one time, it is out of sight, out of mind.”

Hosea confirms there is a time for ceasing to pray.  It’s just not usually as soon as we think it is.  We are to pray until the Lord comes.  If He hasn’t met us on the subject yet, we are to keep praying.

This reminds me of Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-32).  As confusing and odd as that passage of scripture is, verse 26 is clear.  In it Jacob says to the Lord, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

There is that until word again.

Hosea and Jacob both charge us believers to pursue the Lord with everything we have until we reap the blessing and experience righteousness.

I think it is of utmost importance to emphasize that doing so does not require the Lord to answer our prayers exactly how we think He should.  Pursuing the Lord with this vigor guarantees a blessing and some righteousness, but they will probably take much different forms than we anticipate.  In fact, if the blessings He chooses to bestow are different than what we want, it is only because God wants to give us blessings that are much better than what we had desired in the first place.

So, pursue the Lord until he comes and blesses you.  The blessing might not be what you had anticipated; it will be even better.