A few days ago, I caught myself praying about some things happening in my life: “Dear Lord, please let me my hair grow longer and thicker. Dear Lord, please help my six-pack abs to finally form. Dear Lord, please help tell my friend to call me”. Then, I had an epiphany. I am praying completely wrong. Perhaps I should not be asking God for ‘things’, but rather for the patience to wait for these things to happen and for the strength to carry on in case they do not. 1 John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
I danced for my college dance for two years. I am a firm believer that you can’t count on anything in life, so leading up to try outs for my third season, I prayed and asked God to allow me one more year on the team. For some unbeknownst reason, I got cut. I was devastated, because dance was my whole life and my entire identity. I honestly felt like, for a period of time, I went through a break up. In fact, I am not sure I even cried as much for a boy as I did when I ‘lost’ dance. I was very confused, because I had asked God to put me on the team. Now, I COMPLETELY understand why it happened the way it did. I know now that, had I spent one more year on that team, I would have been miserable and I would have missed out on some of the opportunities I gained. This experience really taught me a lot about myself and about the people around me: who were my support systems, who were not, and definitely helped build my character and resiliency. Instead of praying for a spot on the team, I should have been praying for the strength to continue living in case it didn’t work out, and the faith that everything happens the way it is supposed to.
Life is indeed messy. We are on our way to our dream job interview, and our car breaks down. We plan to go on a date with our dream man, and a family member has to go to the hospital. We get into our dream grad school, only to find out there is a baby on the way and maybe some of our dreams have to be altered. And, as humans, we are selfish. We want everything. We want that job with that excellent salary. We want that guy to call us back so we can get married and live happily ever after. We want that new car. But, we certainly cannot have everything and God cannot answer ALL of those materialistic prayers, because maybe we aren’t meant to have those things; maybe we are meant for something different.
So, maybe you already knew this about prayer. My family grew up Catholic, where we went through the sacraments, ate the crackers, sung the songs, listened to the preaching from the Gospel. My mom burned the Harry Potter books in the backyard because they were filled with “demon spirits” and we had a constant supply of Holy Water in the house. And, throughout all of these rituals and traditions, I never quite really paid attention to HOW I was supposed to be praying in between; instead of asking for “stuff” and for “things” to happen, I am going to start asking for guidance, for faith, for patience, for strength, for acceptance.