How to Pray Submissively in Plight
Prayer is an important way in which we establish a proper relationship with God. But why sometimes doesn’t God hear our prayers? How should we pray to receive God’s praise? I was confused by these problems in the past. But now I have a new knowledge of prayer through a special experience.
Flu Breaking Out, I Prayed for My Son
There has been a large-scale flu outbreak recently, and many people have gotten sick, especially children. Because of their young age and poor immunity, many children had cold and fever. There were relevant reports and posts both on WeChat Moments and in Wechat groups. Seeing that every major children’s hospital was overcrowded, and that it took a few hours to line up, I prayed to God in my heart, “God! Everything is controlled in Your hands. My son has a weak constitution. I don’t know whether he can overcome this or not. Oh God! I’m willing to entrust my son to You and may You protect him.”
Seeing my classmates and friends were busy taking their children to see a doctor, I felt very happy that I could rely on God. However, sometimes I would still worry about my son, so I always prayed to God for him.
My Son Getting the Flu, I Was Anxious
Several days later, my son got sick as well. His tonsils were inflamed and sometimes he had a cough. He snored loudly when sleeping. At night, I had to accompany him to sleep. Seeing that he opened his mouth slightly to breathe and that sometimes he could only inhale but could not exhale, I dared not to fall asleep and I worried about him a lot.
Afterward, I prayed to God, “God! Now the flu has become very severe and my son is also attacked. I think he is really sick. His tonsils are inflamed and he snores loudly while sleeping. God! I beg You to protect him. If my son is seriously ill, I will have to stay at home. In this way, my daily spiritual devotions and my services will be affected. God, please give me a way out.”
His Illness Worsening, I Complained About God
After going to see the doctor and having a rest at home during the weekend, he seemed better and his tonsils became small. However, his illness worsened after he went to school for two days. I thought he might be infected by his classmates. My husband asked him to request for leave and I agreed. In a flash, my son rested at home for almost a week. However, his tonsils didn’t become small in two or three days as usual. It had been almost ten days yet he still didn’t get better. I was very worried about him.
After reading some online posts about the disease, I suspected that he got adenoidal hypertrophy. The post showed that the disease will lead to poor sleep and affect brain and body development. I worried even more though: Although this disease can be cured through surgery, my son is too young to have an operation; if he just takes medicine, it doesn’t work well, but the doctor has no better ways of curing his illness. Hearing my son’s snores, I always worried about him and dared not to fall asleep. It was difficult to live in such a way.
At that time, I was confused in my heart: I have been praying to God for my son’s illness, but why doesn’t he get better? How long do I have to live such a life? If he goes on like this all the time, won’t his illness become more serious? Why did God not hear my prayers? Why is this so?
Recognizing My Impurity, I Felt Indebted
One day, I read the Bible, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Pondering God’s words, I suddenly realized that God likes it when we worship Him in spirit and truth. But I found there were many impurities in my prayers for my son’s illness. Firstly, I prayed to the Lord many times only when I encountered difficulties I couldn’t solve myself. In my prayers, I regarded God as a straw for me to clutch at and hoped to gain help, asking Him to cure my son’s illness; secondly, I only told the Lord my difficulties in my prayers, with transactions and impurities. I didn’t have a seeking heart and true obedience to God at all. In my prayers, I spoke high-sounding words, but in my heart I made demands on God saying: “Regardless of what happens to them, or what they’re dealing with, people always protect their own interests and look out for their own flesh, and they always look for reasons or excuses that serve them. They are without the slightest truth, and everything they do is in order to justify their own flesh and in consideration of their own prospects. They all claim grace from God, trying to gain whatever advantage they can. And why do they make excessive demands of God? This proves that people are naturally greedy. They are not possessed of any sense before God, and in everything they do—whether they are praying or communing or preaching—in what they pursue, and in their inner thoughts and their desires, they make demands of God and claim things from Him, hoping to gain something from Him. … What problem is proven by people’s excessive demands of God? It proves the extent of their corruption by Satan, which means that, in their belief in God, people don’t treat Him as God at all.”
After reflection, I saw my own sordid ugliness. Because of my selfishness and greediness, I always wanted to obtain grace and benefits from God. I never sought God’s will, nor opened up my heart, telling Him my lack and rebelliousness when I prayed. I didn’t have genuine obedience to God. On the contrary, I always asked God to do things according to my own will and did not treat God as God. In fact, I not only prayed to God in such a way for my son’s disease, but always made demands on God in my daily life. I wished that God would keep my job going smoothly, my family in peace and security, and keep the bad things away from me. I would complain about God if He did not answer my prayers. How could God listen to my unreasonable prayers? Wasn’t I speaking idiotic nonsense? Thinking of this, I saw my own sordid ugliness and could not help but feel indebted to God.
Understanding the Truth, I Found a Path to Practice
Afterward, I saw God’s words saying, “You seldom pray genuinely, and there are some who do not even know how. Actually, to pray is mainly to say what is in your heart, as if you were speaking as you normally do. However, there are people who forget their place as soon as they begin to pray; they insist that God grant them something, heedless of whether it accords with His will, and, as a result, their prayers wither in the praying. When you pray, whatever it is you are asking for in your heart, whatever it is you long for; or, perhaps, there is an issue you wish to address, but into which you have no insight, and you are asking that God give you wisdom or strength, or that He enlighten you—whatever your request, you must be sensible in phrasing it. If you are not, and kneel down and say, ‘God, give me strength; let me see my nature; I beg You to work; I beg You for this and that; I beg You to make me such-and-such….’ That ‘beg’ of yours has a coercive quality; it is an attempt to put pressure on God, to compel Him to do what you want—whose terms you have unilaterally decided in advance, no less. As the Holy Spirit sees it, what effect could such a prayer have, when you have already set the terms and decided what you want to do? One should pray with a seeking, submissive heart. When something has befallen you, for instance, and you are not sure how to handle it, you might say, ‘God! I do not know what to do about this. I wish to satisfy You in this matter, and to seek Your will. May Your will be done. I wish only to do as You will, not as I will. You know that all human will is contrary to Yours, and resists You, and does not accord with the truth. I ask that You enlighten me, give me guidance in this matter, and let me not offend You….’ That is the appropriate tone for a prayer.”
From God’s words, I understood that I should be reasonable as a created being and be in the right position when I pray. I should seek God’s will and stand in the place of a created being, giving my true heart to God. I should neither impose my own thoughts onto God, nor exploit God, or do a deal with Him. Only by standing in the right position and having a right attitude, can my relationship with God be normal. After praying, we should learn to wait, seek and have faith in God instead of harboring conceptions, doubting or determining Him. God does His work in His own time, and sometimes He tests us to see whether we truly believe in and rely on Him when we pray, and to see whether we have demands and impurities. Meanwhile, we should reflect repeatedly on whether our heart is sincere. At that point, my heart became bright and clear. I knew what I should do. I could pray to God for my child, but first I should keep a heart of obedience to God and wait for His time. I should not make requirements of God, but believe that no matter what God does, there are His good intentions.
Later, I prayed to God, “Oh God, thank and praise You! I regarded You as a straw for me to clutch at when my son was ill. I did not completely submit to You and entrust him to You with a true heart. I only wanted You to remove the people, events, and objects that were not compatible with my will, to cure my son’s illness soon. Oh God! I saw that I was full of impurities and demands of You in my prayers. I am not an honest person. Oh God! I am going to put aside my incorrect demands and obey Your arrangements. I believe that you do all things in Your own time and I will do everything in my power and leave the rest to heaven. I will take care of my son carefully, but at the same time, I would like to entrust him to You. Whether he will get better or not, I will accept and submit.”
Examined Again, I Put Aside My Impurities
Another week passed, but my son’s snores were still loud and his tonsil was big. At that time, my heart ached. However, I thought that when Job lost his children and his livestock that filled the mountains, and his body became covered in sore boils, he would rather curse the day of his birth than complain about God. He did not make demands on God to remove this environment. He was convinced that both giving and taking away were arranged by God, so he maintained a heart of obedience, praying to God, “Jehovah gave, and Jehovah has taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah” (Job 1:21). I should follow Job’s example and no matter what the result of my son’s illness was, I should not make demands on or complain about God. This was the rationality I ought to possess. Later on, I gradually put aside my son’s illness and no longer made demands of God when I prayed, just ensuring that he got the treatment he needed. When I learned how to obey God’s arrangements, one day, my husband and I found my son stopped snoring that loudly, and that there were fewer times when he could only exhale but could not inhale. I couldn’t help but thank God for His mercy from the bottom of my heart.
Through this experience, I received a lot: I not only knew my impurities in my prayer, but also understood that I should stand in the right position as a created being and keep a heart of obedience to pray. In this way, we could meet God’s will. I am willing to practice this aspect from now on. I am grateful to God for all of His arrangements. Thank God for His enlightenments and guidance to make me understand these. All the glory be to God!
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