As I’ve been going down this road with two LGBTQ children and trying to reconcile how I feel now with how I felt “then,” I am surprised by all that is being touched and influenced. Like my prayer life. I hadn’t anticipated that it would change in any form, but it has. I guess with my shifting views on how God interacts with us, it would have to.
So, what do I believe about how God interacts with us? For years I’ve felt it was silly for people to pray for one sporting team or another to win. I mean, why would God care about that? Then, I think of people in truly horrific situations who receive no Divine answer to their petitions. How could a loving God just ignore them? I hear stories of people in desperation, wanting so badly to change their sexual attraction, yet it doesn’t happen. If this truly was something God wanted “fixed” wouldn’t it make sense that He would do just that? He doesn’t though. Just like He doesn’t interfere with a million other circumstances we find ourselves in. We often rationalize that it “must be God’s will,” but as I’ve been growing into my role as an LGBTQ parent, this reasoning no longer works for me.
I now believe that we are here to learn and grow from our experiences and that means God has a “hands off” approach. God has His own agenda and if we aren’t praying for His way to be done, then it doesn’t matter what we pray about – it’s not going to happen. I’ve been taught this my whole Christian life – if you want your prayers answered then make sure you know what God’s will is. Well, I don’t and, now, I would never presume to know, so what do I choose to do instead? Pray that I will behave Christlike, no matter the situation.
I no longer believe that He cares about our circumstances. I do, however, believe He cares about our responses and will assist us in having appropriate ones. I think there are instances, as well, that He does intercede to assist us in having positive responses to the situations we find ourselves in. For instanace, we can pray for someone near to us to be in better health, which He probably won’t answer, but if we pray that we will find ways to help that person, He will.
It’s all about changing our hearts, which I am beginning to see as the “big picture” in all of life. Things that happen to us or around us don’t change our hearts. How we react shows what’s in our hearts and, if we don’t like our responses or they negatively impact the situation, then we can ask for help and it will come.
Another thing to pray is gratitude. There are big and small things to be grateful for that happen or we see or hear every day. We are alive. Is that worth thanking God for? Most days. How about rain? (I live in the desert, so that’s a yes for me). Beautiful music? A rainbow? A smile? Kind words? The point is, being grateful and, most importantly, expressing our thankfulness changes our hearts. We become more aware of the good and wind-up actually looking for it.
So, for me, my prayers will sound like this: “God thank you for this glorious cloudy day and the rain that came last night with the wonderful thunder and lightening. Please help me to be kind and loving and to express my gratitude to my family and friends this day. In Christ’s name. Amen.” Simple. To the point and no guesses about what God wants my day to look like, only what He wants my heart to behave like.