I recently saw a two-day episode of Dr. Phil where a mother had denied that her two daughters were being sexually abused by her husband, their step father. The adult daughters were confronting her, wanting answers. Throughout the two days she was unable directly say the word yes when asked if her daughters had been sexually abused—though her ex-husband had been convicted. She did admit that she believed her daughters and that they were not lying, but she was unable to say anything directly and frequently when asked she simply called out passively to God. She was using her lamentations to deny and deflect. She kept saying that she did not know—implying she thus bore no responsibility. She had seen her husband on top of one of her daughters, thought it was a nightmare and walked away to pray that it was not real. She thought she was being pious by calling upon God and that it absolved her from responsibility; her daughters rolled their eyes every time she did it.
If those women are cynical regarding religion or merely toward God, I understand. When faced with more questions from her daughters, she turned them to more cries to God about how it was not her fault, how she had suffered and how they did not understand.
This woman was still a child caught up in magical thinking. She was like the 4-year old asking God for a pony and getting mad when it’s not there when she wakes.
She did not understand that…
Prayer is not Passive
…it is active and not a mere lamentation of despair, but includes questions within such lamentations. Oh God, what should I do? Passive attempts at prayer are dead things, excuses used to deflect responsibility and give the appearance of action and piety. Prayer asks for guidance, salvation and answers.
God knows that blaming is wasteful and resists action. So you may be feeling that this is not your fault, you spouse left you, your spouse is cheating, your spouse is being vindictive; you were the good spouse, the pious spouse, the fidelitous spouse. You did right and he did wrong. Ha! I know a lot of you don’t feel that way at all. But some of you feel it fully and more of you think it when the hurt jabs at you; you think it and feel guilty for having such thoughts. Why should you change, apologize, grow, solve when you are being the good spouse? Because even if you were perfect, refusing to change and grow will keep you stuck in the present conditions of being a betrayed and lonely victim. Your perfection makes you imperfect.
So instead of crying to God that you did nothing and it is unfair, ask God what to do now. Sure, it may be unfair, but it is still happening. What do you need to do now within the context of what is real rather than what should be.
God Needs Us
God created universal laws which He follows. Miracles are not spontaneous reversals of His laws; they are His acts through Creation. God needs us; He uses us to accomplish miracles. He sends us to rescue, save, advise and hug. God sends us to feed, comfort, encourage, love… He comes not in stately splendor but in humble creations just as he came to us on a cross.
God answers prayers and sometimes His answer is No. Maybe you don’t need a pony, maybe you don’t need to know why, maybe it is not time for your MLCer to come home. Ask God what you need to do; He is using you to solve your problems. I think that bears repeating: God is using you to solve your problems. You, yes, he gives you the power to help your Self. Ask Him how to do what you need to do. He is providing you the tools that teach and He is providing you the time to learn.
God’s miracles are often about connecting need and opportunity. That $20 in an old jacket was there yesterday, God didn’t make it appear by magic. But today you needed it and He brought you to it. Sometimes God’s acts go unnoticed because they are part of everyday life. God sent someone to brighten your day with a smile or a thank you. Maybe you weren’t paying attention or maybe you noticed and were warmed but did not consider God within the gift. Maybe you were meant to be the gift and you failed to smile to brighten someone’s day.
Prayer is not a deal with God.
If you don’t bring my husband home from MLC, I will turn away from you.
If my marriage is not fixed, it proves there is no God.
What makes your marriage so special that it is the litmus test for God’s existence? Other marriages fail and yet you continued to believe in and turn to God. Soldiers die in war and 3-year olds get cancer. How fair is that? Is it fair or unfair that soldiers die? Or is it unfair that it was that specific soldier that died or that specific child that got cancer? Each and every one of us will die, what may be unfair is when. My 92 Grandma has had a wonderful life and wants it to be over; she probably thinks it unfair that she is still alive. My mother’s cousin spent the last 38 years of his life as a paraplegic and said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. He said that soon after the auto accident that put him in his wheel chair, not after years of bitter resentment. Sometimes when God answers prayers with blessings, we think they are curses.
Life is full of tragedy and hardship and God is here to help us through it, to help us within the experience; He helps us grow through experiencing all aspects of life and thus trains us to help others in their experiences. God calls us to be his miracle workers. He is calling you now. Are you answering? Sometimes it only takes a smile to make light in a person’s day; start there. Standing isn’t still and prayer isn’t passive. They are about living to the fullest even when you are hurting.
How are you living with and through your prayers?
How are you listening to God and solving your pains?
How are you helping others and how is that helping you?
How are you answering God’s call to action?