Letters to Tom — Prayer

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:6-7

Dear Tom:
A reader writes, “Sometimes you just have to let go and tell God what you need and trust in what happens next, right?” She later writes, “How do you balance praying for what you believe you need—and feeling worthy of getting an answer? Perhaps a better way to ask is—do you believe God is ever offended by what we ask for or believe that we need? If what I believe I need feels somehow superficial, should I not even ask and hope that in not asking I am forced to search deeper for something less superficial to ask for?”

I recognize good questions and the above are doozies. I am no expert, but I venture some thoughts for the sake of discussion. First, God wants us to keep in touch and he listens even if we engage in a “pity party, “or a “major league venting session,” or present a laundry list of perceived needs. He is never offended by our petitions. When we go to God alone in prayer we are facing our own inner chaos. Presenting our problems to God confronts our restlessness, anxieties, resentments, unresolved tensions, and long standing frustrations. In prayer, we abandon our old support systems of denial and escape and cry out for the unconditional mercy of God, which is always present. In prayer we gradually create a space in our heart where God’s spirit resides and brings us perpetual comfort. In this space we listen to our own questions, and as Rainer Rilke says, “…gradually grow, without even noticing it, into the answer.”

So should we not ask God in fear that our request is superficial or offensive? My belief is that nothing is off limits in our conversations with God. God is all knowing and Jesus said, “…your father knows what you need before you ask him.” Yet time and time again Jesus said pray in praise, for forgiveness, and yes for “daily bread.” I believe the reference to “daily bread” is an invitation God to articulate what you perceive you need. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul reaffirms God’s invitation to talk to him about your needs. We have all experienced an instance where we finally got up the nerve to ask for something – a date, a loan, to come home, to be forgiven, etc. When we finally did ask we received a response similar to, “I was waiting on you to ask.” Perhaps God is just waiting on us to ask.

Your Friend,

Webb

About the author

Webb Hubbell, former Associate Attorney General of The United States, is an author and speaker. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller.

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