I remember reading a book when I was a child about “being careful what you wish for.” I forget the title of the book or what specifically was said in it. But I do remember that a boy (or girl) made a series of wishes without being specific about them and then ended up receiving a very literal variation of his wish. For example, he wished he would be more grounded and that he would stay put and set down roots for himself in a particular place. I bet you can guess what happened to him when he received the literal version of his wish. His legs turned to stumps and he started literally growing roots that went down into the earth. Whoops! I guess the wish-maker got confused, or maybe the wish-maker is just sneaky and likes to stick it to people.
I guess this little book had a real impact on me, because I often times worry about being extremely specific in my prayers, just in case God decides to use my mixed up wording in order to teach me a lesson. I’m superstitious. And worst off, I think God is sneaky in how He deals with my prayers.
Just to express how stupidly real this is for me, let me give you an extreme way in how this “christian superstition” has effected me in my life. When I was 19 and very new in my faith, I was constantly praying to God that He would do something drastic in my life that would make me take some risks and move forward to adulthood. By the end of that year, my dad died. So, guess who felt responsible for this drastic turn of events? Yup, me.
I wasn’t definitive as to what I wanted that “drastic something” to be when I would pray. So, it must have been my vague prayers that made this happen. It was like I pictured God snickering at me saying “be careful what you wish for!” I battled this guilt for a long time. Until in a moment of weakness I poured my heart out to my (at-the-time) roommate, about this guilt I was carrying around with me. She looked at me in all compassionate sternness and said “No, God doesn’t work that way!” It startled me. He doesn’t?
The gracious God I would continue to get to know was exactly as my roommate said He was…Not a God who worked His will out that way.
In fact He see’s straight through to my inner most being, knowing exactly what I mean when my words fail me. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26. In other words, if all I can muster is groans of agony as a pray to the Lord, I don’t have to worry that God will turn me into a bear, because He misunderstood what I was praying. The Spirit interceded on my behalf, making my true desires known.
I may be the only one in the world that struggles with this, but I doubt I am not the only one that can take solace in the verse above. Because we all know what it is like to feel our words fall apart when we come to the Lord in desperate prayer.
I love that the outcome of my prayers are not dependant on how well I articulated them to God. So I can rest in Romans 8:26.