Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Adoption is Teaching Me: How to Really Pray

I've been living in a real relationship with Jesus for about 15 years, and you would think I would have learned this before now.  I admit I've never really had the kind of prayer life I'd love to have, it's always bee something I've struggled with.  I've found it easiest to pray while writing, it keeps me focused and less rambling to be writing my thoughts. So I've always kept a prayer journal.

But lately, I just haven't even had words to pray/write.  I've heard others say things before about praying in faith, and having enough faith to believe God will accomplish what we ask.  I've read the Scriptures about asking Him and Him giving you the desires of your heart.

But over the past year, as we've waited for step after step to get us closer to bringing Meryn home, I've watched myself go through the following cycle.  We need to see something happen: fill in the blank.  I begin to pray, believing that God can accomplish this thing on our behalf.  This praying in faith, believing he can do it, inevitably leads me to an expectation that he will do it.  Then, often, we don't get the news we've been hoping for at the time we've hoped for it.  This always leads me into a mini-crisis of faith...

Since I've done this so.many.times in the past year, this last week, I've been so confused about how to even pray for this next step.  The desire of my heart is that we would clear Embassy on Tuesday after Embassy interviews the man who found Meryn.  That's what I want.  But I've been so hesitant to pray that, because if I pray, I will expect it.  How can I pray it and not expect it? That's not praying in faith...

And where I've been emotionally, I can't handle the "what if we don't pass" thoughts.  I get anxious.  I start to panic. I begin to hyperventilate.  It's a physical thing.  My mind is overwhelmed, I can't even hear my kids asking for juice.  I want to crawl under my bed and hide, and just wait for it to all be over.  The idea of this all not being over on Tuesday, of the Embassy not being able to clearly approve our case, of it being sent to Nairobi and dragging on for who knows how much longer... I just can't handle the thought.

So I've gone to Scripture.  God, how do I make it through this?

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

And there it is.

Let God know what you want.  And He'll give you peace.  A peace that surpasses all comprehension.  He'll guard your heart and your minds.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you face many trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask in faith, without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.  For the than ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. " James 1:2-8

Yikes.  Those last few verse sure describe me to a tee the last few days.  Driven and tossed by the wind... double-minded... unstable....  That's totally how I've been living.  These passages together have given me a lot of clarity in to how to pray right now.  I need to let God know what I want.  What we think we need.  But I can't attach my faith to the outcome I'm asking for.  I attach my faith to God.  That He is good.  That He has the big picture.  That He will accomplish it in whatever way he sees fit.  I can't doubt that He is in control, and that He'll do what He ought.  That totally leads to double-minded-ness and instability.  I can testify to that. : )  Philippians doesn't say to present your requests to God, and He'll give them to you.  It says He'll give you peace.  Tell him what you need, leave it at His feet and in His hands, and receive His peace.  Man, that is so what I needed to hear!

Looking to the example of Jesus' life, in Mark 14, Jesus faced the most difficult struggle any human being has ever faced.

"They came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to His disciples, "Sit here until I have prayed."  And He....began to be very distressed and troubled.  And He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death, remain here and keep watch."  And He went a little beyond them and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by.  And he was saying, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for you, remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what you will." Mark 14: 32-35

What Jesus was facing here was his own death, his own unimaginable suffering.  I'm only facing the potential of an extended wait to be united with our daughter.  But how Jesus prays!  He's weeping, He falls to the ground, He's sweating, He's distressed and grieved to the point of death.  He begs the Father to allow Him out of this struggle, but ultimately says, "what you will."  This is how I need to be praying right now.

I praise God that He is bringing me out of the fear and double-minded-ness that I've been living in for days.  His word has worked a miracle in my heart, and He has given me peace, as He promised.  Yesterday was the first day in a week or two that I've been able to function on a normal level, and be calm in considering the possibility of the Embassy not clearing our case on Tuesday.  Friday, I couldn't have imagined that.  (I'm ashamed to admit how weak I've been, but thankful he is strong in my weakness!)  He is giving me peace, and preparing my heart.  I am laying it at His feet, and believing that He will do as He sees fit, and He will prepare my heart to walk through whatever path He lays for us.

Thank you, Jesus, for your example, and your provision for us in your sacrifice and power over death.  I can't imagine facing life and all it brings without the hope found in God's word! 


  1. Can't imagine the spiritual struggle you are going through, although I can relate on many levels. I love the book of James, and all I have been learning through my study of it. Can not wait to hear from you on tuesday.

  2. Can't imagine the spiritual struggle you are going through, although I can relate on many levels. I love the book of James, and all I have been learning through my study of it. Can not wait to hear from you on tuesday.

  3. I'm glad you found the comfort you needed. God's word does that. You've been so much on my mind and heart. I don't like seeing you have to go through this difficult situation. I remember Gracia saying that she wouldn't change a thing referring to Martin's death. She, too had come to terms with the fact that God's will is perfect in the end. It sure doesn't always feel that way when you're going through it. I'm so proud of you, your reliance on God for your answers and your sweet and humble witness to others.