" To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause."
Psalm 25:1-3 (New King James Version)
My parents modeled prayer daily to their four children. No need was too insignificant to pray about. My mom tells a story that happened when I was about four or five years old that illustrates this well. She and I were in a department store when my eyes landed on a pair of red shoes. I had my heart set on them.
"Mama, can we buy these shoes?" I asked.
My mom had other things that were more of a priority for her money than an impulsive purchase. Looking at the longing in my eyes, she decided to make it a teachable moment.
"Shawnee, let's pray. If Jesus wants you to have these shoes, He will save them for you. If they are still here when it is time for us to leave, we will know that He has said that it is okay to get them."
I did not hesitate a second, but earnestly asked Jesus to save my red shoes for me. I wistfully looked backwards as Mom took my hand to resume our shopping.
I often wish that praying were that easy as an adult. I didn't hesitate to make my little girl request to Jesus at age five. I believed that He would hear me. Now, at forty, the faith does not always come so easily. I have had wrestling matches with Him in prayer. Sometimes, the answer comes quickly. Other times, circumstances make it difficult for me to understand what He is trying to say.
My dear sisters, why does Scripture instruct us to pray? The Lord has the ability to grant our requests immediately. But many times He doesn't. The wait can seem like forever. We can be tempted to wonder why we should even pray for the same request yet again.
I believe that prayer is for us, not for Him. It is during the struggle of the wait that we start to change. Prayer has the power to realign our hearts, with their foolish desires, to God's best for us. I can think of several prayers that I prayed fervently over the years that He did not answer to my liking. I am so grateful that He said no. Life could be absolutely miserable if I had gotten my way.
There is safety in prayer. That wrestling match of prayer can make us feel defeated. All of a sudden, though, we can realize that we have held on long enough for the blessing. Those requests that we have labored over the most, when they are answered, are the sweetest of all because we know we are in the center of His will.
What are we praying for today for the hundredth time? Let's pray again, asking for faith to believe that He not only hears us, but knows what is best for us.
Back to the story I was sharing with you. A five-year-old girl walked out of the department store that day knowing that the red shoes on her feet were given in answer to her prayer. My joy was profound. I knew that Jesus had heard me. May you and I have the same joy as we look expectantly to His answer.
Jesus, thank You for the privilege of prayer. You always listen. More than that, You know what is best for us. Help us to continue wrestling with You. Change our desires to what You desire for us.