Jesus really encourages us to go to God to ask for what we want.
- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” ~Matt 7:7
- The Parable of the Persistent Widow ~Luke 18:1-8
- The Persistent Friend ~Luke 11:5-13
Once upon a time, these verses were a major source of frustration for me. I had been asking, knocking, seeking for years on end, and all I heard from God was silence.
I felt abandoned… not entirely, God was not dead silent. I still felt him guiding me, and I recognized his voice in many places. But, when it came to this one particular matter, my deepest wound and greatest fear, God remained silent.
Did he not care? Was he saying no? Was I asking for the wrong thing?
These worries plagued my mind, haunting me for years.
Then, in a quiet, grace-filled moment, I found hope in the wisdom of St. Augustine. Augustine observed that through silence, God invites us to ask, and ask, and ask again. Using this process, God transforms our hearts, making them bigger. The pain we experience is similar to the process of building muscle. In order for the muscle to expand, it must first experience micro-tears– and it is exertion that causes those tears. The same is true of our hearts. In order for it to grow, it must experience exertion and micro-tears (even though the pain is far from feeling “micro”).
My first thought was cynical: “great, I’m getting a bigger heart so I can love more….”
To be honest, this just sounded like God was going to require more of me…
However, Augustine surprised me. He proposed that the expansion of the heart is not only so that one can learn to love more; it’s main purpose is to create space for the gift that God intends to give to that individual.
As it turns out, my problem was not that I had asked for too much, I had asked for too little. Far too easily satisfied, I had been selling myself short. God made me wait because he wanted more for me.
Now, there were times throughout my struggles when I would shut myself off from God. I never stopped practicing my faith, but I did stop having intimate conversations with God. My withdrawal took place within my personal prayer life, my logic being, “why talk to you if you’re not gonna talk to me?”
My prayer life suffered… and to be honest, it probably made me less aware of the comforts God was trying to send me along the way. Thank God for his grace which never wavered and finally broke through my coldness.
My ground-breaking advice for anyone experiencing a period of waiting:
- just keep doing what you’re doing
- don’t turn away
- keep praying- or start again
If you are like me, and your prayer life has suffered as a result of this same type of expereince, I invite you to join me for my first blog series, “Prayer Rehab.” Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about everything we gain from prayer, how prayer can only be of benefit for us, and some tips and tricks I’ve used to “jump start” my own dead battery.
I hope you’ll join me!
P.S. waiting is still the worst