Change in Perspective
In all my questioning though, I remain convinced every prayer gets answered. Just maybe not like we’ve asked. Don’t think for a minute that means your prayers aren’t honored. It isn’t the specifics of the prayer, it’s the sacrifice of the heart that matter.
That sacrifice of our heart, the laying down of all our struggles for control, leads to our third benefit of these seemingly unanswered prayers.
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Experiences That Change Your Perspective
God sees every crack and cranny of a heart in need of his light and grace. Instead of glossing them over and hurrying to our requests, he pauses mercifully. He pauses as long as it takes for our cracked open heart to catch up with his plan for bigger and better.
Here’s how I know.
Early in my marriage, for a period of about two years, I prayed for my marriage to be stable and secure. Things weren’t where I longed them to be. Do you know that for two years, God and I went round and round on this?
I’d dutifully ask, “God, please give me stability and security in my marriage.” and he’d reply, “You need to find your stability and security in me.” So I’d come back, “But, God, don’t you want me to have a stable and secure marriage? Aren’t I praying for what you want?”.
He’d answer with a yes, but no, “Find your stability and security in me alone.”
Getting Closer to God Through Prayer
This was not satisfying. Relentlessly, I went on asking for what I deemed best and ignored his answer. I ignored it because it didn’t make sense to me. I had no clue how to find my security and stability in God alone. I wanted to hold other people responsible for filling all of my needs.
God knew though that the gaps in my ability to trust others and lean in healthily weren’t my sweet husband’s responsibility to heal. Only God could heal what was broken in me. Only God could heal what was broken in my husband. Only God could bring the level of security and stability I craved. Truly, only God could grow me into a healthy spouse capable of enjoying and upholding a stable and secure marriage. He saw my need and answered in the fullest way possible, even though that wasn’t what I was praying for. While I was busy praying for a fix of the other person, God saw needs on both sides of the table and addressed them simultaneously like only he can.
Trust in God Alone
Here’s what I came to believe about my wise beyond measure God’s righteous level of security and stability:
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. -Psalm 62:1-2
God alone satisfies our souls. God alone is our ROCK and salvation. God alone is our security and stability.
God could have changed things in my husband and in our situation to result in me having better feelings, temporarily at least. Instead, he heard my request and changed what really needed addressing — my heart. Changing my heart to depend on God alone, affected everything in my life, including benefiting my marriage. Of course God wanted our marriage to be stable and secure. He just chose to work on my half of the deal first.
When I relented and let God alone be my rock and my salvation, it changed my perspective. The time I spent praying for God to change my heart and allow me to trust him the way he said I could, significantly cut back on the time I spent laying out my complaints.
Seeing As God Sees
That attitude trickled out from my prayer time into my marriage. I wasn’t as critical or needy. My feelings of stability and security weren’t wrapped up in the emotional ups and downs of marriage. I could take life day by day and know that whatever came next, my God was bigger and stronger. I also knew he was working in both of us. He was for us, not against us and he’d finish the good work he started in each of us individually and in our marriage.
In my letting go and being less worrisome and controlling, I realized I was no more perfect at marriage than my husband was. It was equally new for both of us. God was merciful and so very patient to give me the repeat message until I decided to let go and let him work in both of us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
His message of resting in him alone didn’t just help my marriage in that season. It bled over into my friendships, my parenting and my work.
I can confidently say in any situation, however this turns out, whether what I want really is best or whether I’m selfishly mistaken, I hand it to you, God. You alone are my rock and my salvation. You alone provide my stability and my security. I rest in you, knowing the battle is already being fought and I won’t be shaken, at least not greatly.
Benefits of Prayer – Change in Perspective
Turns out, God isn’t into quick fixes.
It’s not just me that God did this for. He also did this for Paul.
First, according to Acts 9 as Paul set out to imprison more Jesus followers, he was met with a bright light and a voice from above asking why he persecuted God. Not surprisingly, this dramatic interruption brought on a change in perspective. Paul began following Jesus and greatly influenced the beginning church.
That plot change is fascinating, but here’s where it gets juicy to me. Later on, Paul asks God to remove a figurative thorn in his side. He pleads with God three times to remove it, but God says “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then reports, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Talk about experiences that change your perspective.
God Confidence vs Self Confidence
Paul’s saying, “I went from pleading with God to remove this vile part of me, to thanking him and delighting in it and any hardship that follows it, because GUESS WHAT? Lesson learned. Those are things that drive my stubborn, struggling human heart into a position of sacrifice and praise. When I am weak, he lends me his impenetrable strength. Nothing tops it.”
If you’ve been doing life with Jesus for a bit, you’ve probably Amen’ed the verses below. I encourage you, no matter how many times you’ve heard them to take pause this week and mull these over. Such praise worthy words these are! Side note, this encouraging word is brought to us by none other than our Perspective Change Hero himself, Paul.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:1-2
God, I pray that you bring sensitivity to my heart that I might see your transformative work in every situation I face. The good things, let me be quick to praise you for those! The awful things, let me be quick to seek your faithfulness so I remain open to hearing what you want me to learn. I know you will not leave me or forsake me. Help me not confuse you with my circumstance! Even though they change, you do not. You are steady and I am secure in your salvation. Let my life always be a living sacrifice to you and your perfect will.
I love this “Be Still” Prayer Journal. Having a specific place for writing all of my prayers together creates a personal treasure while simplifying the process over time. This journal includes a different verse on every page, which I love. The spiral bound book means no wasted pages and there’s a hard surface included for writing wherever I find myself!
There are two things I love about reviewing prayer journals.
1) I can remember the prayers and see exactly how and when God answered them. In that way, and since so many prayers include praise and thanks, it lends itself to doubling as a Gratitude Journal. Gratitude Journals are an amazing reminder that seasons come and go, but there are always good, solid things to be thankful for. It’s a perspective changer all in itself!
2) I can see my perspective changes so clearly. When my prayers change to reflect less of me and more of God, it highlights an area where he was working faithfully in me. Again, this lends itself to overwhelming gratitude.
This Change in Perspective article came about through the questions I’ve had on the benefits of prayer, especially those that seem to go unanswered.
You can dive into the questions with me here, then continue through the series to see these benefits of “unanswered” prayer: