Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"be careful what you pray for..."

How many times have you heard that said? "Be careful what you pray for!" A warning that God may just give you what you ask for...but that it might not look like the package your mind had it wrapped in. I think I've heard this little comment made most frequently when people mention praying for patience or other God-character traits.

And, really, how do we get actually acquire those types of things for which we pray? Usually the best way for God to give us 'good character' traits is by giving us on-the-job-training!--by putting us in a situation (or many, if we don't learn well the first or second or third time!) requiring the practice or exercise of that very character trait. And, though God COULD just hand us a bucket-full of patience, He usually helps us to DEVELOP it instead. Romans 5:3-4 shows us the progression of developing good character: "...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." As a result, I've many times heard people say, "Oh, don't pray for patience!! You might just get what you're praying for!"

Well, today I heard that phrase go through my head-- "be careful what you pray for!" because I have recently been praying for something. And today, I think God gave me a bit of what I was praying for. It was then the phrase went through my head. I was saying it to myself somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I really DO want that thing for which I have been praying, but... I didn't really think about what it could mean. I didn't REALLY think about what it would FEEL like to have God answer that prayer...

Because what I've been praying is... that God would break my heart with the things that break His.

I pause as I write it...because of the gravity of what I am asking...and because, though I am not sure what that will look like, I really do mean it. I want God to show me what it is that He would have me be broken-hearted over...what He would have me be passionate about. For out of that heart-brokenness we are moved to passionate caring and action.

I don't want to try to drum up feeling for something. I don't want it to be about me. I cannot, of myself, stir up my cold heart of stone into a caring, loving, compassionate heart. I need God to turn my heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I want Him to show me where it is He wants me to care most deeply, to stir my heart into passion...and out of that deep, heart-wrenching caring to be used by Him...to serve Him...to use my hands and feet and time to serve. To serve Him in that place of His broken-heartedness. In the area where He has shown me His heart of love.

And last night and again today, I had a taste of it. Of the broken-heartedness of God over a situation. And it filled me with an unexpected and inexplicable sadness and made me cry. For a long time. In fact, I cried off and on throughout most of the rest of today--whenever I let my mind go back to the situation, to think about it. It wasn't something I ever would have cried or gotten emotional about previously, but today, it made me so very sad. I think God has begun to answer my prayer....and I shall continue to pray.

The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
~Soren Kierkegaard


  1. I was thinking of dropping you a mail, but I couldn't find your address anywhere.

    I'm not sure if I should write this, my heart is heavy.

    I don't truly understand why the prayer, but you remind me of Mother Teresa. I've read books about her, a wonderful loving lady who wanted to be broken again and again so that she could love the unlovely and serve Jesus with a broken heart. Just my personal opinion, Oh Sharilyn, a heart of stone could never say that prayer! It is already a fleshy heart, bleeding and asking to be broken again for the Lord.

    I don't know what has struck you so hard now, it must be difficult. I'm not sure if this is from God, it may be another hurdle in life that God wants you to deal with first. I pray that He will first quiet the storm in your heart... and reveals His purpose to you.

    It's a big prayer, Sharilyn, but if this is what you desire, count it a joy that the Lord has found favor in you!! That He acknowledges you as His instrument and is now shaping you all over ( if we've not misread the situation ). Your broken spirit and contrite heart, He will not despise.

    You're a noble servant of the Lord, Sharilyn. I can never say that prayer, never... As a friend, all I can do is just stand by you, and ask the Lord to do what He deems fit for you. I'll be praying for peace in your heart...

    Wish I could be there for you.

  2. Wow, is all I can say. I ask for the Lord's heart in an area in my life and He answered it in painful spades. But, out of the ashes came an amazing beauty. Good for you for being fearless in Him. I loved what you wrote and I love that quote. Be a peace sister! God has a mighty plan for you.

  3. stardust- thank you, my friend, for your concern and your kind words. thank you for caring. i shall try to email you later this week.

    debra- thank you for your encouraging words! i don't know about being fearless, but i am working at it and at being faithful in whatever that brings about. we know God is good, but He is also a mystery, isn't He?! i appreciate your heart and your kindness!


I'm so glad you've stopped by! I love hearing from you and can't wait to read your comments! Let me know what's on your mind and your heart today...