Years ago, the leader of a parent’s support group I was in led a guided meditation. “Close your eyes,” she encouraged us.
I closed my eyes.
“Now imagine whatever it is that you desire coming to you,” she said, or some such thing. “Receive it from the universe.”
I opened my eyes. The universe?
Embarrassed, I explained why I couldn’t participate. For me, as a follower of Jesus, prayer is not mentally manifesting a personal desire, but, rather, a petition to a personal God who desires to bless those who seek him.
Scripture is full of God’s promises to help those who trust him. Some of my favorites from the English Standard Version:
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand,” Isaiah 41:10.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4.
But what about when you’ve been seeking so long, and the blessings don’t come? What about when your heart is so heavy it’s beginning to grow hard? What about when you can’t pray?
That’s where I found myself this week, struggling with a problem that seems to have no solution – or at least not the solution I desire. Driving to work, I felt so weak and hopeless, just getting through the day seemed impossible. And so I prayed the only prayer I could, “Lord, help.”
As I clutched the wheel, I still felt weak and hopeless, but slowly the words of a prayer formed in my mind. “By faith, I receive your grace for me today,” I whispered the words aloud. “By faith, I receive your peace. By faith, I receive your strength.”
How often do I pray without expecting an answer? The words, “by faith, I receive,” were not a wishful affirmation, but a reminder that God himself is the answer I seek. And so I lifted up the situation weighing me down to a personal God, trusting that in his divine wisdom and mercy, he would provide the perfect solution. Maybe not be the solution I desire, but the one that will bring about the biggest blessing. Because that’s his promise.
So when I get discouraged, I remind myself of the many times God has provided in the past. Then I thank him for what he is doing today. Because while I don’t know the answer, I know that God is faithful, as I am reminded by the song Promises by Joe L Barnes, Naomi Raine and a group of talented young artists with Maverick City Music.
“God of Abraham, you’re the God of covenant and of faithful promises,” I sing along, cranking up the music. “Time and time again, you have proven you’ll do just what you said…Great is your faithfulness to me.”
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of mid-coast Maine. She is also the author of the children’s picture book The Backward Easter Egg Hunt and four other books celebrating the holidays in a way that builds children’s faith. Connect at www.meadowrue.com