Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes
Sometimes I have a difficult time knowing what to pray for someone. Maybe they are sick and I want them to get well, then I should pray for them to get well, right? But doesn't God do more than just make people physically well? Doesn't God have plans and purposes even in our pain to produce something greater in our souls than simply noses that don't need tissues or limbs without scars? I think He does, and so does Nancy Guthrie, popular author and teacher of the Bible. Listen to her words:
Shouldn't the purposes for suffering we find in Scripture guide our prayers more than our predetermined positive outcomes? We could make a very long list of purposes for which God intends to use suffering according to the Scripture. But here are just a few:
- To put God's glory on display (John 9:3)
- To make the life of Jesus evident (2 Cor. 4:10-11)
- To live out genuine faith (1 Peter 1:6-7)
- To cause us to depend on him more fully (2 Cor. 1:8-9)
- To reveal hidden sin or keep us from sin (2 Cor. 12:7)
- To experience that Christ is enough (2 Cor. 12:9)
- To discipline us for holiness (Hebrews 12:10-11)
- To equip us to comfort others (1 Cor. 1:3)
- To make us spiritually mature (James 1:2-5)
- To make us fruitful (John 15:2)
- To shape us into Christ's likeness (Romans 8:29)
- To share in the suffering of Christ (Philippians 3:10)
What would happen if we allowed Scripture to provide the outcomes we prayed toward? What if we expanded our prayers from praying solely for healing and deliverance and success to praying that God would use the suffering and disappointment and dead ends in our lives to accomplish the purposes he has set forth in Scripture? Scripture provides us with a vocabulary for expanding our prayers for hurting people far beyond our predetermined positive outcomes.
To go deeper than praying only for deliverance means that we approach prayer not as a tool to manipulate God to get what we want, but as a way to submit to what he wants.
Let's continue to pray for healing, but also pray looking for God to fulfill all the greater promises He gives us too - His joy, His character, Himself.
Read the rest of the article here: Praying Past Our Preferred Outcomes