Most of us learned to pray as little children. As adults, we’ve all had experiences where God (or the Universe, if you prefer) hasn’t answered our prayers. A recent experience caused me to ask myself…..
If God doesn’t answer a prayer in the way that we expect the answer to appear, does that mean he’s not listening….. or, could it mean that we’re not?
A few days ago I was on Twitter when I saw a random tweet from a teenager, asking us to pray for her family, as they were looking for the answer to a big problem. As she tweeted with her friends asking everyone to pray for them, I realized I had a connection that could solve her problem. I reached out to her with a tweet, asking her to share an email by a direct message, so that we could talk privately and not be limited to Twitter’s 140 characters.
Rather than responding to me with joy, she was “creeped out” that a stranger would read her tweet and reach out to help. From my simple tweet telling her that I thought I could help her and asking her to contact me, she asked me stop being a “creeper”.
My first reaction was one of hurt and disbelief, because I was being nice, right? A minute later I smiled and realized two important things.
First, in order for God to answer our prayers, we have to remain open to possibilities that we might not have thought of. In other words, if you’re praying for the love of your life to show up and you have your eye set on a specific person, chances are you might miss other opportunities for love that are right under your nose.
If you’re praying for an answer to a problem, the solution might come from an unlikely source, even from a stranger. So many times, we don blinders and think that God doesn’t answer our prayers, simply because the answer doesn’t show up as we expect it to.
Secondly, I had to let go of any expectation in reaching out to help another and remember that a gift is still a gift, even if the other person doesn’t accept it. It’s more important to reach out with love and to give, than it is to receive any gratitude or accolades for doing so. Giving is a gift to the giver, many times, more than it is to the receiver.
We all find mirrors in life to reflect back to us that which we most need to learn ourselves. I saw that God did send an answer to this young woman’s prayer and she missed it, because she was too busy seeing the world through a lens of expectation and limitation. That realization made me evaluate my own life, and see where I’m doing the same thing. We all have expectations on how things “should” be, and sometimes when they show up differently, it’s more challenging to find the blessing in the situation.
So today, I invite you to join me and remain open to possibility. Believe that only good things are coming your way- even when you can’t see it that way. Look for the blessing in every challenge. Know that God is listening… and most importantly, we need to make sure that we’re listening too.
Photo Credit: Max Elman