I got that lead-balloon feeling on Sunday when our pastor pointed out all the things Paul didn’t pray for in his letters: people with cancer, busy schedules, promotions at work, successful ventures, hard pressed finances, strained relationships…. Not that those things don’t matter, or that we shouldn’t pray for them, or that God doesn’t care about the minutiae of our lives, but they weren’t on the apostles regular prayer card.
It raised the old question for me again: why do I always find my prayer list filled with immediate needs, when I know that matters like the Kingdom come, His will be done, missions, justice, global worship etc are weightier and worthy of prayer? Why is it that when I do sit down to pray (and my struggles with that are lengthy and complex) I pray for the “light and momentary afflictions”, and so seldom for the eternal things?
I don’t have an answer for that, but this weekend I found one little word which is helping me close the gap between the daily-needs-prayer and the weightier-matters-prayer.
Here it is: instead of praying “God, make it better”, I need to pray “God, make it count.”
God, my friend is dying. Don’t just make it better, make it COUNT. If she can be better, let it be so, but don’t let this suffering have been wasted. Work it for good. Please show up and show your grace. Make it count.
God, I’m so busy and so tired. I so badly want to pray “make it better! Make it stop!”, but I’m going to pray “make it count, please,” instead. Let me learn grace under fire. Let me learn to say no to the bad and even the good so that there is time enough to say yes to the best. Show your strength in my weakness. Make it count.
God, thanks for a lovely, sweet season in my marriage. Rather than saying “thanks, keep it up, make it better”, please Father, make it count. Help us to be thankful and still work hard at our marriage, not leaving prayer for the tough times alone. Let this good season count.
God, money is tight for so many dear ones. Everything in me wants to ask for more, to make it better. But please Lord, make these tight days count. Teach us to be wise stewards, teach us to give generously now while we feel hard pressed, teach us to pray for daily bread, and to learn the secret of contentment whether we have plenty or little. Make these days of economic hardship count.
God, I’m at my wits end with my kids. They won’t eat, sleep, poop or obey as I’d hoped they would. I want it to be better, please Lord… I know you can make it better, but instead I will pray “make it count”. Help me to be patient with my slow to learn kids, as you are patient with slow to learn me. Help me to show love to them in their immaturity, as you show love to me in mine. Lord, make these trials in parenting count: let them teach me and my children what YOU are like as a parent. Make these long days of relentless loving discipline count.
God, now that I think about it, please don’t just make it better. Not if it doesn’t count.
Please make it count, so that these light and momentary afflictions do the work of preparing us for a weight of glory that outweighs then all.
God, this is my life: in all it’s gritty, knotted and messy glory.
These are my loved ones.
These are my tears.
Please, please, please… Make it count.