Gratitude for Unanswered Prayers

6 Jan

A group of us was recently discussing a quote by C.S. Lewis: “If God had granted all the silly prayers I’ve made in my life, where would I be now?” (C.S. Lewis went on to explain that he thinks we’ll one day be more grateful for the prayers that went unanswered than the ones that did.)

Granted, there are some pretty big prayer requests that I have that are still unanswered.  And some of them matter a lot.

But on the whole?  I’m not even sure if I remember 1% of the things I prayed. I know I prayed  for professors to end class early…not realizing that often means you have to stay later the next class. I know I prayed that my Mom wouldn’t serve certain meals as a kid…I realize now I should have just politely asked if I could eat something else.  I’m fairly certain I prayed conflicting prayers regarding weather and sports wins and there’s no way my prayers could be answered without unanswering the prayers I’d prayed the day before.  Go figure.

A long time ago, I prayed about dating someone that I’m very glad I didn’t date. (And I don’t mean that in a nasty way, just that we weren’t at all suited for each other.) I know I prayed that I would get a Fulbright Scholarship (funnily enough, you can’t get one when you recall your application because you move to England instead).  Although I never prayed to win a lottery, I know some people have and they didn’t even bother to purchase a ticket. I prayed that it would work out for me to move to D.C. and nanny so I could get my Masters in History part-time (that almost worked out, but I’m so glad it didn’t!  I would have paid full price for a master’s degree in a not very lucrative field when instead my MBA has been mostly paid in full and is applicable to my job).

But mostly, and I’m almost ashamed to admit this, I’ve prayed for things to be easier.  For less confrontations, for easier decisions, for less-challenging days at work and to be left alone.  None of those things have happened.  And I’m so glad.

Challenge makes us strong.  Challenge shows us what we are capable of.  Challenge requires us to ask for help. I like being strong and capable and independent. I also like relying on friends and family and mentors for advice. Maybe a life of peace would be ideal (but also impossible) but it feels good to have fought battles and won.  It makes me a more reliable mentor for others.  It makes me more sympathetic to what people go through.   No one escapes from battles – a medical battle, a job hunt battle, a battle of willpower vs laziness.  So it’s a whole lot silly to pray that they would just disappear.

Okay, so I may have prayed on one of my ultra-marathons that it would feel like 13 miles instead of 39.  Boy, did that not come to pass!  But I’m grateful for each mile because I know, without a doubt, that I made it.  That I started the race and I finished the race and I ran every excruciating footstep in between.

And okay, I still pray that games of Candy Land will end quickly.  With the youngest player winner.  But I also believe that Candy Land is the one exception to the cheating-is-a-bad-thing rule.  And I won’t be changing my mind.  Not even if you spend time praying for me for Candy-Land-Cheating-conviction.

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One Response to “Gratitude for Unanswered Prayers”

  1. Meg January 6, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I think Candy Land should be in the pile of things my kids are ignorant of. It took them about four years to figure out that “the apple place” (AKA McDonalds) sold things other than apples in a little baggie. How’s that for deception?!

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