A wise woman once said to me "Be careful what you pray for, because God just might answer it!". She then recalled the story of how she had unknowingly prayed for patience whilst learning about the fruits of the spirit, and then God had put her in a room with many screaming babies - talk about having to learn patience fast!
It got me to pondering, how often do we pray in the moment without actually thinking through the repercussions of those prayers? How often do we truly understand what God means through a passage of scripture, and when we pray through it we are not aware of what that could mean? If we were truly aware of what we were praying for, would we actually pray for it?! If we knew how God was going to answer us would we think twice?
In answer to these questions I want to skip back to yesterday. After a night of interrupted sleep due to a teething baby, the arrival of a cold and general house moving drama, I was not in the best of moods. My head hurt, my sinuses were blocked and my patience (unlike my wise friend above) was running thin. Due to my amazing husband, I managed to make it through to Sam's bedtime and then I did the only thing that my failing body could let me - took a bath. During the best half hour of my day, as the steam cleared out my sinuses and the warm water relaxed my aches and pains, I took the time to read through my prayer journal and reflect on what God had been doing in my life. (I try to do this little review every now and then, mostly when I am struggling to see what what God is doing in my life, and I often find out that He has done way more than I asked for or has answered a prayed in a completely different way to how I originally thought He would when I prayed it. It reminds me of the amazing creativity, provision and power of our Father.) It was then that I discovered this prayer from July 2013:
"Show me ways where I can be bold in faith, that when I look back on this year I will know that I have trusted you and grown immeasurably"
This is a prayer that I do not remember praying and that I now think "why on earth did I pray this!!". After all the hassle with our house move and not knowing where on earth we would end up with it all and not being able to do anything about it, I am wondering what possessed me to pray this! God has very clearly answered this by giving me the opportunity to put my faith in Him throughout this period and to really trust that He will sort it out. But if I knew the way in which this would happen, would I have actually prayed this prayer in the first place?
I think and hope that my answer would be a resounding "yes", as I have learnt many things over the past 7 months of house moving. I have learnt about how to handle disappointment when the first house fell through. I have learnt about patience when all I really wanted was the quick way out. I have learnt about provision and that God gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. I have learnt about parental love, and that God wants to give us the best not the second best. I have learnt about my motivations and why it is I want or need something. I have learnt about our family's calling and our mission. And through all this learning I have grown - as I originally prayed. I have grown most importantly in faith, as I have had to hold onto God to get us through this time and I have had to trust that He has the best in store despite the journey to it or what we might lose along the way. I have also grown in my prayer life and devotional times both in quantity and quality - now my first reaction to many things in my day to day life is to quickly pray, and I am trying to carve our times when I can quietly reflect on scripture and write it down in my journal.
So even though my brain says that was a stupid thing to pray and would take it back to avoid the pain and heartache of the last few months, my heart knows that it was the best thing for me. That through that prayer being answered I am now a stronger Christian who is closer to my Heavenly Father. And that is all that truly matters in this life. That as we journey on through the good and the bad that we grow more Christlike and more dependent on Him. So do be careful what you pray for, as you never know what the journey to that outcome might be, but you also never know how much God is going to bless you on the way.