Which is more difficult: Asking for a blessing or receiving it?
Praying the prayer or accepting it's answer?
I'm not sure.
Asking would seem easier because it never hurts to ask, right?
But what if you prayed for weeks and the answer you received isn't the one you wanted?
Which is more uncomfortable?
I've been on a spiritual journey since my bare legs and patent leather shoes dangled off the edge of the church pew. I might not have known I was on a journey but the older I get the more I realize that what takes root in a child's brain grows deep enough to become a part of their reality. Positive or negative. Truth or fiction. You may never be able to fully excavate it's origin.
I grew up thinking that God was a Dad. Jesus was His Son. The Holy Spirit was a ghost who let God and Jesus know if I was behaving. It scared me a little. No one ever told me this but it was the way my mind made sense of the Trinity.
As I got a little older, I decided that God should not be bothered with trivial matters, so I shouldn't pray for a new bike or a passing grade on a test. He's not a genie, and He won't respond to wish requests. Approaching God was a formidable trip to His throne and only meant for significant, well-connected people like clergy or people in the choir. My mind's "root" gripped me firmly and told me that talking to the Almighty was not for me. No one got through to Him unless it was important. "No nobody not no how." (Sorry, I'm a big Wizard of Oz fan.)
Jesus, I rationalized; would listen to my silly ideas and prayers because He seemed closer to the earth. He had just been here. But I never "asked" Jesus for things; mostly I told Him about my fears and I often referenced that print of the Angel watching the children crossing over the rickety bridge. I'd ask Him to send a pretty angel to me like the one in the painting. But that wasn't really a prayer; it was more like a glowing endorsement: "You guys in heaven are doing a great job sending angels to watch over the little children." Every once in awhile, I'd let it slip that I wanted a pony, but then I'd apologize and say something ridiculous like, "Uh, I'm just kidding, some other little girl needs a pony more than me." My thought process was irrational and the fact that I'm the baby of our family would lead you to believe that I'm about as spoiled a pumpkin by late November but I promise I'm not. My warped theory that God and Jesus are unapproachable was contrived in my brain because I saw them as royalty and I was "merely a commoner, m'Lord." I never really prayed for something specific because I never thought my prayers were important enough. This was a false stronghold, but it was present every time I lowered my head.
Now as an adult, I confess that asking for something specific in a prayer is the most difficult because I have to set aside my feelings of being unworthy and focus on His grace to give. Grace is not earned. Grace is not earned. I have to give myself a pep talk when I've reached the point of acknowledging that I need His help. Not only do I have to set aside the feeling I'm unworthy, but I have to push down my pride and willful independence to bow my head, close my eyes and pray. Where I've reached the point acknowledging that I need His help. I'm praying for some need, asking for some gift request, hoping for God's intervention, to me is the hardest part. Humbly being reminded that I am nothing without Him. VINE & BRANCHES (apart from me you can do nothing) John 15.5
A while ago, I blogged about a recent church experience called Pick Me Up. There were worshipers who had their arms stretched out and they looked like children demanding to be picked up by our Father. They were open and expectant to receive His blessings. This is hard for me. Not just because I was raised Presbyterian and never not once did I see someone raise their hands when we were singing in church. We *might* have done hand motions to Jesus Loves Me in Sunday School or VBS but reaching up, palms open was not something I witnessed.
So for me, I struggle with both sides of the asking or receiving. I've tripped down into the rabbit hole and landed on a big pile of scattered puzzle pieces. I feel it's my responsibility to figure it out and commit myself to a great deal of thinking and concentration and at least sort the pieces into matching piles.
The first (asking for a blessing) *as raw and truthful as I can be,* I *feel* I'm behaving like a greedy child. He has other children who need more than I do and much bigger prayers to answer. And I hate to bother Him. The second, (receiving the answer) while waiting with expectancy (arms reaching up, palms open) *again raw honesty here* puts me in the position of a beggar instead of an abled bodied person. If God helps those who help themselves, I find myself asking the question, have I given it all I had? Have I used every available means to address the issue before I just throw my hands up and say - Okay, God. You go. We'll do it Your way.
This is a pondering journey, and I know I don't have to, but if I had to choose one (asking or receiving) and deciding which is more difficult, I would have to say, the first. *Asking for help* is my biggest struggle because I'm digging up years of my own buried stories convincing myself that God is Great but too great for my smallness. But I'm starting to believe that in my smallness, He is there. Jesus answers my heart even when I'm too broken to pray.
"They are weak but He is strong." What are those hand motions again? I need a refresher.
Seeds to Share:
2 Corinthians 12:9 - Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.