Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Socially Unacceptable Prayers

I've been away from my blog WAY too long. I wonder--do I have any readers left? If so, thanks for hanging around and please bring a few of your friends over. I love meeting new people!

I think it is time for a word for the day and today it is--

perplexed:
  1. Filled with confusion or bewilderment; puzzled.
  2. Full of complications or difficulty; involved.

Boy, if that doesn't describe me right now I don't know what does. I'm hoping you, all my precious readers, will chime in on this one and let me know your thoughts and opinions, because my situation, I've discovered, is a ticklish topic that deserves discussion.

Let me set the stage. Most of my faithful readers know that my husband is an independent catastrophic insurance adjuster. (The independent part means he works and gets paid only when his company calls on him, and the rest of the time he is unemployed.) If you are new to my blog--well--now you know too. At the end of May, Rick signed himself out because he was suffering from burn-out, needed to have some major dental work done, and had to have cataract surgery. (It has been a costly summer as we are some of those uninsured Americans--targets of liberal government control. But that's another post for another time.) Now my man can chew his steak, sees better than before, is rested and ready to go back to work. Only one problem--no work to be had.

After two and a half months of no income and major expenses, we need money. There are only a few methods of financial acquisition. You can be gifted it, steal it, borrow it, inherit it, or earn it. Our society frowns upon beggars so I'm not expecting a gift, society and heaven frown upon stealing so that's not an option, borrowing when you have no income to pay back is just stupid, we don't have wealthy relatives, and if we did, certainly we would not want them to die just so we can pay the mortgage, so we choose to work for the money that we need. And our work depends upon--I flinch and squirm--storms. I put my faith in God, (El-Shaddai, the God who is sufficient for the needs of His people & Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our provider) therefore I am praying for a storm.

Yes, you read that right--I'm asking God to provide a storm so my husband will have an opportunity to do what he does best, and then we can pay our bills like upstanding citizens should do. I've even asked some of my friends and family to agree with me in prayer. Responses have been varied, but all have come with hesitation. Here are a few.
  • How about if I pray that God just bless you?
  • I'll pray that if there is a storm, you will benefit from it.
  • I'll ask God to give you work.
  • (Deer-in-the-headlight stares but no words.)

I've discovered that it is not always socially acceptable to pray specifically for what you need. But pray specifically I feel I must! God has, and continues to bless us beyond words. A Christian heritage, wonderful healthy children and grandchildren, a free country in which to live, good health, a sound mind, a good marriage...even some very beneficial rain on our tiny plot of land are just some of the ways in which He has blessed us. Yes, we always ask for God's blessings though we are already so richly blessed, but those blessing won't pay the doctors or the electric bill. My precious friend that offered to pray that if there are storms we might benefit was thoughtful and meant well. But, we could find ourselves in the middle of foreclosure if there are no storms. What about the generic prayer for work? We have plenty of work. Remember all the rain that came as a blessing? It has made mowing our 1.5 acre plot an almost full-time job. And the mud and grass that hubby tracks into the RV keeps me sweeping up between washing his dirty clothes. Weed pulling, trim painting, bush trimming...there is plenty of work around our house to keep us busy, but that work does not produce income.

My prayer request perplexes my friends and honestly sometimes even myself. People have a hard time asking God for something they see as negative or "not good." Nobody wants to be known as the person who prays evil or disaster into the lives of others. Not even me! So I am especially and personally perplexed because what seems good for me might seem not good for someone else. (I think I know how the tax collectors might have felt during the first century.)

I find a little comfort in the realization that we are not the only people that benefit from another person's misfortune. Doctors need people to get sick. A dentist and an eye surgeon profited greatly because my husband is plagued with rotten teeth and cataracts. The guy that owns the local tire shop needs folks to have a blowout ever now and then. Your mechanic needs your car to break down, police officers, lawyers, and judges have jobs because of unlawful deeds done to law abiding citizens, and guidance counselors, psychologists & therapists all profit when someone else has a problem. Even evangelists and preachers have jobs because lost sinners have yet to find salvation through Christ. Have you ever wondered if your doctor prays that one of his patients break a leg? I dare you to ask him the next time you are in for a check up.

Insurance adjusters are not the only people that profit from storms or wildfires or other disasters. Roofers, tree trimmers, contractors, painters, landscapers, electricians and linemen, shingle and siding manufacturers, trash companies,...(I could go on and on.)

Even the people whose homes are damaged and lives are disrupted sometimes reap a harvest. Life's trials give opportunity to seek God, place priorities, comfort and be comforted, gain strength and character, learn something new and grow faith. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trial, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1: 2-4) Could it be, that if I pray for a storm, rather than praying evil into someone's life I might actually be praying for the maturity and perfection of their faith?

I've given this a lot of thought. I know God cares about the tiny details of our lives, so I know it is okay to pray specifically for what we need. I know I feel encouraged and comforted when my brothers and sisters in Christ pray for us. I know I can't stand the look on their faces or the hesitation in their voices when tell them I'm praying for a storm and I ask them to pray for one too. I know that none of us have the mind of God and what seems good to us is not always good and what seems bad is not always bad. I know our bank balance is nearing the "E" mark and God needs to move on our behalf soon. And I know I want to hear what you have to say about my perplexing situation. Do I continue to pray my socially unacceptable prayers or do I lift up a less offensive version? If you were in my place, how would you pray?

16 comments:

Your Old Friend said...

I know a lot of people in Central / South Texas that would be happy if your husband had to work some flash flood claims.

Talkin' Texan said...

Yes Old Friend,
Sometimes the lack of storms can be worse (or just as devastating) as the storm itself. I know the drought has hurt us all. This summer has been good for the Panhandle, but we were so dry, it will take a lot more rain before we are fully recovered. May God send the rain and may we not complain if a little hail falls with it.

Cindy said...

I was just thinking the same thing as "Your Old Friend" said as I read you Blog. We Have actually talked about the fact that the only way it looks like we will get rain this year is to have a storm come in. So I have the same problem as you. Do we pray that we get a storm that will cause you work and a lot of other people loss of property and us rain. Some people may look at that as being really selfish and I do understand. The prolbem is that they do not see all that is a problem with the no rain in so long here. We have all kinds of pipes breaking because of the ground shifting. We are about to go into stage 3 water restrictions which we have never been in before which means that we are running out of water. Where do you get water to drink for the ??????? of people that live here. So I do understand where you are coming from. I as well know your heart and I know that you are not doing this selfishly. I think that asking specifically is what God wants us to do. He will take care of all the details as He wants them to be. I think He would not be OK if you were asking selfishly and just wanted money to go and blow. That is my take. I could go on but I will shut up for now.

Talkin' Texan said...

Cindy,
Thanks for your input. I am so glad that God is God and I am not. We are safe in praying specifically for what we need knowing that God will do what is best "according to HIS purposes." I don't want to ever make anyone ashamed for going to God as a child would go to her daddy, asking for those things her heart desires.

GMac said...

Three things come to mind when I think about prayer. One, John 5:14, 15 says that we are to ask "according to God's will" and that if we ask according to God's will, He answers "yes" and gives us what we ask. Two, James 5:16 the effective prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much. Here is my brief summary. I don't know what God's will is. I think God can use a storm damaging someone's house to bring good in their life if that is His will. Finally, Romans 8:26-28 says, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Pray the way you are led to pray!

Talkin' Texan said...

GMac,
Thanks for your encouraging words. We all are so far from knowing the will of God aren't we? May we search our hearts so as not to pray simply for selfish gain but that God's will be done in the lives of all parties involved in the situation trusting the Holy Spirit to intercede. In our weakness and in our need we pray.

Anonymous said...

God is not going to bring a storm to a place against His will. He is all-knowing and even if everyone involved in this discussion prays incorrectly He will still do what He knows is best.
If God does send a storm in response to your prayers He will be responsible, not you. You will be blessed for sure because it is wonderful to see that we are in agreement with God but His power brings the storms or stops them.
God commanded us to pray but he made sure we knew that He would be the final authority in answering them and is not influenced by our sincerity or desperation.
I can't wait to see God provision for you!

Ida said...

I would pray that God would provide the money needed. It seems to me that in praying for a storm so Rick can do the work he has been doing is 'praying an answer'. God promises to provide food, clothing and shelter. He doesn't promise to provide a storm so Rick can work. Perhaps God is wanting to move Rick on to something else......or, well I think you get my drift. Is praying for a storm wrong? Probably not, but it does seem to be limiting God in how he will provide for you and your family. Just believe the promise. God hasn't failed you yet, and he isn't going to start now. I know that not having a job and the $'s running out is worry-some. Keep believing that GOD is in control and HE will not let you down. Even if it is in His plan to completely drain your resources. Sometimes, he has to take everything away so he can give you even more.
Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't pray specifically, but SPECIFICALLY, do you need a storm, or do you SPECIFICALLY need enough money to pay your bills? I think you need to money to pay the bills, and the only way YOU can see that to happen is for there to be a storm. But God may not see it that way. So, yes, pray specifically for what you need. Let God decide how to provide the need.

Ellen Haroutunian said...

I had a similar dilemma. We needed a new roof and didn't have the money nor did we want to take on debt. We just kept praying it would hold on, which it did. Then, a friend got a new roof via their insurance company because of hail damage. For years I didn't pray for hail, feeling that the storm would cause hardship to someone, and also cost the insurance company. We prayed for help and provision in whatever way God would choose. Nothing happened. But...so I confess, we finally asked for a storm. The hail came and the new roof goes up in a couple of weeks. God is sovereign and I am grateful. Would He have allowed it if it were against His perfect will for us or anyone else? Or to diminish someone else so we could prosper? Not at all. I thank God for people whose work helps us after storms. They happen and we need you. I appreciate that you are willing to struggle to be upright in all this. Sometimes (or most of the time) the answers are not very easy.

Talkin' Texan said...

Anonymous,
I like what you said about God being responsible if He chooses to answer my prayers. To think that we can pray evil or destruction into the lives of others is somewhat kin to witchcraft. No, God is not a puppet and no, I cannot control Him or His hand. (Thank goodness!)But I'm not sure I agree that He is not influenced by our sincerity or desperation. We see in the Scriptures where God was moved by the desperate prayers of His people. If He is not, then why pray? Please clarify your statement for me and my readers.
Thanks for taking part in this discussion. You bless my heart!

Anonymous said...

I will try to clarify what I meant there when I said God was not influenced by our sincerity or desperation.

Sincerity: this one is easy. I did not mean our sincerity of faith but rather our sincere incorrect beliefs. Some here feel it would be wrong to pray for hail, others believe it is not. Someone is wrong but I bet both are sincere in their beliefs.

Desperation: this is more difficult. Have any of your children ever been "desperate" to have a gadget that everyone else has or "desperate" for popularity or acceptance. True desperation is when we lose hope or give up. I think both of these are a bit overused. Solomon said he had NEVER seen the righteous forsaken so I do not believe there is room for desperation in the life of a Christian. As one of the other contributors mentioned, God is not going to desert us. We might feel desperation as an emotion but He is there and He is still in complete control. And.... he will not be manipulated by our claims of desperation.

Know that I am not accusing you of this. I am guilty of it(I have feigned desperation many times... "If God wont give me that new house that I sincerely feel I need then I am just going to give up... waaaaahh!")and others have shared their similar "fit throwing" stories.

An example in parenting, We don't give in to our tantrum throwing kid in the grocery aisle if we are good parents no matter how sincere his feeling of need or how desperately she thinks she needs it.

I hope that make sense in where I was coming from.

Talkin' Texan said...

Ellen,
Can I give you a hug? We too, in our early days (before hubby was an adjuster), had no other means for replacing a bad roof outside a hail storm. Like you, eventually we prayed for hail and hail came. We counted it as a blessing from heaven. Our feelings about hail storms have not changed. :)
Thank you for the encouraging words. Few people see their adjuster as a helper, but that is exactly what we try to be. We do our best to be God's ambassadors to people who have experienced loss. So if I asked God to give us a place to minister do you think that would be more acceptable to our peers? :) Thanks for your comment. You've blessed my socks off!

Talkin' Texan said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for clearing that up. I agree that childish fit throwing gets us nowhere with God. But childlike requests are different. A childlike request (in my opinion) is really admitting that we cannot care for or provide for ourselves without God's help and possibly His drastic intervention. (Total dependence on Him) Those prayers I think can be very sincere and desperate and I believe they touch the heart of God. I am desperate (without hope) separate from The Vine. I believe God hears and answers the prayers of that kind of a desperate woman.

You made a remark that others have shared their fit throwing stories. Here? Did I miss something?

Talkin' Texan said...

Ida,
Thank you for your input too. I totally understand what you are saying. Believe me, I'm open to any method God chooses to provide for me what I cannot provide for myself. And I have prayed just as you have suggested. "God, we need money!"
If one day a statement shows up in the mailbox saying that my mortgage has been paid in full, I won't get mad at God for not bring about a wind storm somewhere. Or if some wealthy person decides that I'm a worthy cause, I won't reject a donation. However God wants to care for me is fine. Even if He takes me from this temporal life and gives me the riches of heaven I'll be fine with it.
I guess the thing that perplexes me is the "socially acceptable" angle. Working hard is admirable, right? And the area of work in which my husband is highly trained, deeply invested, and downright good at is adjusting insurance claims. In order for him to practice his socially acceptable trade and work hard, some hail and wind and rain must come. Asking God for the opportunity for Rick to do what he is good at doing is not acceptable. (For some) I have no intentions of limiting God. I just find it contradictory for believers who teach about praying specifically to refuse to do so at times.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Childlike faith is definitely something we should all strive for but not childish fits.

In answer to your question:
You made a remark that others have shared their fit throwing stories. Here? Did I miss something?

I was speaking of previous conversations I have had with friends, fellow church members, etc, not anyone here on this discussion. My point being I am not alone in trying to use my emotions at times to manipulate God. This conversation just happened to coincide with another discussion I have been involved with about how much stock we should put in "how we feel" as opposed to "what is the truth". Sorry for the confusion.

Brittney said...

God does want us to be specific, he says ask and you shall recieve. But he does not always answer the prayers the way we feel he should. God wants to know what we want, but he provides for what we need and sometimes he waits until the last moment possible to answer, so that we learn to trust or whatever it is we need to at the time in Him, He provides, he cares for the birds in the sky and provides for them, He cares so much more for us. I know from personal experience that even sometimes the answer is no. Just pray that God takes care of you being able to the pay the bills. God does have a plan.