Over the past few months, there have been two distinct situations where I felt slighted. Overlooked. Insignificant.
My hurt festered. I felt justified in my disappointments, allowing pseudo-conversations to play out vividly in my head (anyone else do this?)…at times just hoping I’d get to say these things out loud. My husband wisely cautioned me not to. But I was feeding the fire with these imaginary conversations – winning the war of words, in my head at least. I was clever…and mean.
Instead of fully voicing these words, I retreated to lick my wounds and pray that God would change those who were causing my hurt (even unintentionally). I prayed God would soften their hearts. Cause them to see their wrongs. Convict them to apologize to me.
You see, when I chose “pray” as my Word of Year I was hoping for big changes in 2019. “Pray without ceasing” was to become a lifestyle. Gaining holy sensitivity to the Spirit and answers to big prayers were on my checklist.
What I didn’t realize was that instead of my circumstances changing, my own heart would need an attitude adjustment.
From Grumbling to Gratitude
After I cried and prayed, I picked up the gratitude devotional I was in the middle of, and read these words: “We think we deserve more (or different or better) than we have, and therefore we forget or minimize the blessings God has already given and continues to give.”
“It’s time we let gratitude be our ticket to freedom.”
I picked up my pen and wrote down my wants that I felt very deserving of:
- My time to be honored
- To be appreciated
- To be welcomed
- To be understood
- To be loved
Humbled, I realized Jesus Himself did not have these luxuries during His earthly ministry. His time was demanded by others or stretched too thin. He wasn’t appreciated for who He was, only what He could do. He certainly wasn’t welcomed. He wasn’t understood by the masses. He was hated by many.
Prayer Brings Repentance
In a separate Bible reading that same day, God brought me to this verse:
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?Romans 2:4
I started making a list, not of my grievances, but of the things I was grateful for in that moment.
- Gracious and loving people in my life
- A husband who wants me to do the right thing, not just the thing that feels good to my flesh
- Loved ones who sacrifice their comfort to serve and love us
- A kind God who wants me to reflect that kindness to others with words and actions
- A God who lovingly corrects me
My hurt started slowly melting away. My prayers changed from, “Lord, change them!” to “Lord, forgive me!” God’s kindness was leading me to repentance.
After that, I was able to look at others differently, as well as my own injustices. I could run to God with my hurt – He knows my frame and my weaknesses. He doesn’t chide me. But when I run to Him, I don’t need to presume that my desired outcome is the right one.
I’m still praying for big things and paying attention to the gentle nudges of the Holy Spirit. But I’m also making sure my prayers are tied to God’s will and allow me to be teachable and tender. And I’m making a conscious effort to take those conversations out of my head and onto my knees.
Scripture and a Prayer to Change Our Hearts
- Psalm 139:24-25 (kjv) Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
- Revelation 2:4-5 (nasb) But I have [this] against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place– unless you repent.
- Ezekiel 36:26 (esv) And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Thank you, Lord, that you want our hearts to align with your will. Thank you that when we spend time with you, you begin to change and shape our hearts to be more like yours – compassionate, forgiving, and humble. As we abide more in your Word and with you, our prayers will reflect your will that ultimately brings you glory and produces lasting, abiding fruit (John 15). Help us return to our first love and repent when our hearts lead us astray. Thank you that prayer can result in big movements in our lives and inside of us. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.