Our church was having their annual ladies' retreat. On the first night, before I went to sleep, I opened my Bible to Colossians 1:9-14 and read:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Wow, that's a powerful prayer! What I realized is that all these years I have been praying for the wrong thing. Look again at what he is asking for. The list includes a lot of verbs (you remember, ACTION words). He didn't ask God to give them fruit, he asked that they bear fruit. He didn't ask that they be imparted with wisdom, but rather that they grow in knowledge. He didn't ask for miraculous strength, but that they be strengthened. And why? So they may have endurance, patience, and be able to joyfully giving thanks to God.
I know that God appreciates our prayers and He understands our intentions despite what we're saying, in much the same way that I enjoy talking to my two young sons. I love when they ask me for help or share a thought with me. But isn't there something more? Absolutely! One of the best parts of parenting is developing a deeper relationship with your kids and this includes communication. When Josiah first started to talk he couldn't say more than a few words and they were often wrong (well intentioned, but wrong). There were a few months when he called me Daddy. I was just so glad he called me anything that it didn't matter. If he still called me Daddy today, it might not be as cute. So what's my point?
God loves to hear from His children, but I think He's desiring deeper conversation. If we model our prayer after what we read in Colossians 1 we will shift from asking for equipment to asking for equipping. What's the distinction? A runner might need new equipment from time to time (shoes, water bottle, pants) but if they are not equipped to run the race it is useless.
Dear God, forgive me for all the times I asked for the stuff that I thought would make me a better Christian. Please help me to grow close to You so that I am prepared to handle what comes my way in life.