Last week, a young Christian man told me, “I would give just about anything so my wife wouldn’t have to work.” They have two very young children at home. He’s self-employed, and the only reason she works is to provide them with health insurance. My response was, “Have you prayed about it?” He hesitated a moment before explaining that he’s never considered it. He prays for God’s will, whatever that may be.
I’ve struggled with that same issue in the past—that my prayers are in line with God’s plan. But what I shared with him is something I’ve learned over the years: God may just be waiting for him to ask. I’m not saying God is like a magic Genie, giving us our every wish, because I know that’s certainly not the case. Prayers are always answered, although the answer may be no or wait. However, I imagine that often the things we want are in line with what God wants for us—after all, He often puts His desires on our hearts—and He’s just waiting for us to ask.
A few months ago, I was frustrated with my lack of discipline when it came to writing. It seemed that I was getting bogged down in the details and letting them derail me. Because of this, I was producing a mere thousand words a week. And since the target word count for my book is ninety thousand, I realized it would take me almost two years to get it finished at the rate I was going. Then my agent looked at my first few chapters and wanted to know how soon I could have it done—and could I get a proposal to her soon?
So I prayed.
I often question if I’m on the right path, and every time I take those concerns to God, He gives me an unequivocal yes—through scripture, encouragement and small successes. Without His strength and discipline, I knew I couldn’t accomplish the task He’s given me. But, I believe He was waiting for me to ask. Why grant us our desires if we assume they come to us through happenstance? But if we pray for them, and God blesses us, then we give Him the glory.
It took me a few weeks to realize I wasn’t achieving six thousand words a week through my own power, but that of the Holy Spirit. It’s He who reminds me to look at my schedule week to week and plan a strategy to get the necessary word count in each day. It’s He who brings those words to me when my brain is fried. And its He who blessed me with a critique partner who’s enthralled enough with the story to edit that much work every week.
Just as my husband will not pray for success when he goes on a hunting trip (instead, he prays for rejuvenation and connection) there are things I will not pray for—such as a book contract. Do I hope to get one? Yes. But, instead, I pray that God will shape my character so that if I do get a contract, I’m prepared for what comes next. Because though some think that getting published is the destination, I know that’s when the real work is just beginning. Our God is more interested in who we become than what we achieve.
Have you prayed lately for the desires of your heart? Do so, and give God a chance to abundantly bless your life.
Jennifer Sienes has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in education. She was a 2013 Genesis Semi-Finalist and is a 2014 Genesis Finalist. She has three short stories published in the Inspire Faith and another short story A God-Colored Lens in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury released last month. She is represented by Karen Ball of the Steve Laube Literary Agency. Connect with her at www.jennifersienes.com