Monday, May 17, 2010

What are you praying for?

Much to the dismay of my husband (who loves me anyway), I am loud. I am the type of person whose laugh you can hear on the other side of a crowded restaurant and whose whisper does not communicate a secret. In fact, my whole family of origin is loud. When we get together it is one wild, crazy, overlapping sentances kind of time.

So, it is not going to be much of a surprise that I also yell when I lose my patience. By the time I have repeated myself to my son three times, I am at a pretty high volume. My wonderful husband pulled me aside a few weeks ago and told me that I needed to get the yelling under control because our 5 year old was turning into a yeller and that was not acceptable - particularly for a boy.

This was a very hard conversation for me because I am very sensitive to criticism as to how well I am parenting. I know I lose my patience and yell too quickly and I hate that about myself, but so far I have not been able to do much about it. Knowing this, Chris asked me specifically what actions I planned to take to fix this issue. The only thing I could come up with was saying that I would start praying about it several times a day. (Which after I said it made me feel the following: "DUH! Hello Ms. ordained minister - you think you could have come up with that a few years ago?")

So, for the past month I have been working really hard at praying several times during the day for God to help me have patience and to modulate my voice. Imagine my surprise (and horror) when one day last week after a particularly hectic morning my son asked, "Mom, why are you being so nice?" (Yes, I thanked God for the moment of conviction) I told him that I had been praying for God to help me be more patient and that I had been working really hard not to yell. Lee was quiet for a minute and then said, "Mom, when you pray to God tonight can you ask him to help you say "yes" whenever I ask for a new toy?"

My first impulse, which I swallowed, was to laugh. I saw, however, that God was giving me a teachable moment that I should take advantage of immediately. I very seriously said to Lee that if I prayed for that and God chose to help me do that, then we wouldn't have money to buy our food and clothing, pay for the house, the car, and help others who needed stuff more than we did. Lee responded, "Oh, I had forgotten about all that stuff."

It is a funny story, but it also made me think about what I pray for and what I should pray for....

God wants to help us become better at everything we do in our lives but in order to ask for help, we first have to admit there is a problem. When you pray, what are you praying for? Is there something you are leaving off of your prayer list because it is too close to your heart or because praying for something about yourself to change hits that pride button that we all have? God already knows our weaknesses and wants to help us through his strength. If we let Him do this for us, it not only makes us better people and better Christians, but it makes us better witnesses for God's grace and power.

"But he [the Lord] said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9