Prayer changes everything. I’ve said this with my mouth for years, but it’s finally beginning to sink into my heart. Recently, I’ve had an ongoing interaction with a fellow believer that’s grating on me. We have a difference in opinion about something, and with all my being, I believe that I’m biblically “in the right” about the issue. It’s chafed against me, causing “righteous indignation,” as the person’s way of dealing with the issue has, I believe, caused others to go astray. Somewhat embarrassed, I can tell you that my go-to-tendency is to get irritated, to talk when I can of my irritation, and to go round-and-round constructing well-crafted reprimands to say to her, either for real, or in my head.
Thankfully, I have a small group of women I’m in contact with who speak the truth in love, and one of the things I’ve heard from them is to “let it go.” They don’t mean to forego confronting an important issue, but rather, to commit it to prayer and be willing to wait for guidance on what to say, and when to say it. But how do I do that? Especially when I’m right?
How do I wait patiently before addressing an important issue, letting God determine the timing and process?
I begin by prayer. By that I mean intentional, ongoing conversation with the Lord about this person. When I’m tempted to tell her what I think, or to “sound off” to another person who knows the situation (and I tell myself it’s for advice, or for commiseration), I instead tell it all to God. Mind you, He already knows. But talking to Him about it is genuinely sharing in a safe place. He’s not going to go blabbing to others. He loves this person more than I do, and He loves me too. He’s the only One, actually, who can do anything about the situation, and the bonus is that He’s going to work on me in the process.
Something incredible happens to me as I tell God about this woman and the situation. First, I get it out. I vent. It lifts the load somehow because I’ve shared it. I’m real with Him, too. I dump it out, and I let my ugly show. He already sees it anyway.
Then I begin to see from a new perspective. As I tell my Papa all my frustrations, learned scripture begins to come back that sheds Truth onto the problems. Past experience reminds me of good, and of not-so-good, ways this thing can be handled. And sweetest of all, I begin to think of this person the way He does. Clarity comes and I may see that yes, she’s wrong. But also, I am. I begin to ache for how the areas she handles incorrectly will bring her harm. I see in a new light how it may harm others. Almost invariably, this realization drives me to pray more, to ask God to intervene in ways only He can. It drives me to have a heart of love toward the person I believe is wronging me.
When I drop everything to pray about a difficult person, I also begin to see myself in a different light.
The still, small voice of my God reminds me how close I am, always, to making some grave error that will harm me or others, and of how many times He has stopped me, or saved me, or forgiven me for those errors. He begins to challenge me, “little one, but for my grace, that would be you. And it has, time and again. Give grace.”
Sometimes, and far less often than I might like, He calls me to speak the truth. In-all-capital-letters: IN LOVE. When I’ve genuinely walked this little journey of God-talk full circle, He may take some of those truths, and some of the wisdom He shares, and ask me to speak it to the person I began praying for. But something has happened by this time: I now long to share it for the good of that person, and for the purpose of reconciliation.
I don’t mean that the person will always like me, or be happy with my words. It might even cause emotional or relational division. But if my heart’s longing is for their best, for their ultimate deeper reconciliation with the God who made them, and if my involvement is infused with gentleness, speaking the truth has a bigger purpose than my personal opinion, or my status of being liked. Now when I speak, I’m not seeking retribution or personal gain, but am willing to be used, literally, for the good of another. Now, when I speak, I’m not just not seeking my own elevated status, but I’m willing to be put down, to build another up, eternally speaking.
Prayer changes everything. When I give God control with my words, it changes me, and allows me to be used for GOOD.
Praying for someone doesn’t always get magical results that match my requests. It doesn’t always change situations. But when I pray “in earnest,” and “without ceasing,” it always changes my heart. Whether it drives me to speak up or be quiet, it teaches me and grows me closer to the likeness of my God. It creates in me a new heart, a new mind, toward another. Praying for another literally changes my heart, my mind, and my actions toward that person, with the potential to bring them good in the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.
How has God used prayer to change you? How has He used your brokenness for another, for good and Glory?