“Be careful what you pray for” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot of people use as they attempt to be super-spiritual. The feeling is that if I’m not “careful”, God might end up giving me something I asked for—even if it’s bad—or keep something from me—even if it’s good. Because of that, I would be super-specific in my prayers, worried God might misunderstand what I was trying to say. However, the more my relationship with Him has grown, the more I’ve realized how ridiculous that phrase really is.
While there’s nothing wrong with praying careful, specific prayers, understand that being specific is more for our benefit than God’s. I mean, think about it like this: I consider myself to be a good daddy. I know my sons well enough to know what they need, most times before they even ask; however, even though they know I know, there’s still some comfort they get in making sure they’ve specifically made their request. While their specificity doesn’t really change my plan, they feel a little more secure knowing they’ve expressed themselves to daddy. Same is the case with God. I know He loves to hear from me—not because He’s clueless to my situation, but simply because He cares about what concerns me. When people “scare” us into thinking we have to be specific with our prayers, what they’re doing is reducing God from Creator of the Universe to the Genie in “Aladdin”. My wife & I took our oldest to see that movie recently and there was a scene where Genie told Aladdin he had to be very specific with his requests, because if he wasn’t, he’d end up with something he didn’t mean to ask for (i.e. If Aladdin asks Genie to make him a prince, while Aladdin means he wants to be turned into a prince, Genie could interpret it as a request to literally create a random prince from scratch). That’s not how God operates. While He’s cool with us being specific, He’s not confused when we’re not.
As Father’s Day 2019 approaches, I wanted to share something that has helped free me from being chained to religion, and grown my relationship with my heavenly Daddy. Know this: God will never keep something from us because He’s “confused” by the request, nor will He give something to us just because we are perfectly clear with the request. Romans 8:26 frees us as it says “In certain ways we are weak, but the [Holy] Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words” (CEV). In other words, sometimes we don’t even know what to say, yet the Spirit helps us by communicating for us. So, if God can perfectly answer a prayer we can’t even speak, why do we stress over thinking He might misunderstand something we say?
I’m learning more & more to trust God for who He is: Loving, trustworthy, kind, merciful, all-knowing, etc. No matter how much I “nag” Him, He won’t give me something that’ll hurt me just to shut me up & prove a point. God doesn’t play “see, I told you so” games, because His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. He hears my heart clearer than my words, and because of that, I’m comforted by the fact that whether I’m “careful” or not, DADDY KNOWS BEST.