Friday, July 11, 2014

My thoughts about praying on this journey......

Like many of you, I am often asked to pray for people. Students often ask me to pray that they pass a test or get a good grade on an assignment. Sometimes someone asks me to pray that they get a new job, or that they win the lottery. Most of the time, I get asked to pray that someone can lose weight.  Obviously, as a woman of faith, I am a firmer believer that prayer changes things, but I’ve learned over the years that prayer is not a magic potent that removes my responsibility from the equation.  Let me elaborate….

When asked by a student to pray that he passes his test, before answering him, I usually ask him this: “Did you study for the exam? Did you read the materials? Have you been going to class?”  If he responds, “YES,” then my response is typically, “Sure, I’ll pray for you….but I’m not going to pray that you get an A on the test; I’m going to pray that God will help you remember what you read/learned/studied and that you do the best you can on the test.”  Sometimes the student looks at me with a blank stare and I explain further that I am not going to ask God to pass the test for him but rather, I will ask God to help HIM during the exam….because he (student) has responsibility in the outcome.  IF he had not prepared for the test, and I told him I would pray for him, and then he failed the test because he didn’t study, then the student’s faith in God would be altered. Geez, Theresa, God let me down; I failed the test.  NO, God didn’t let you down…..You let yourself down by not preparing and studying for the exam.  In my version of the prayer, his outcome on the test becomes a partnership between God and the student.

The same situation regarding winning the lottery or getting a good paying job.  I never…ever…am going to pray that someone wins the lottery or a raffle….or a baseball game or any other type of contest. I won’t even pray that way for MYSELF. I do pray, however, that God will prosper the work of my hands….that will give me the insight, energy, work ethic, desire…to work hard, to be industrious, to do my best….at work, or in a game or contest, or on a project. I pray that God will lead me to opportunities to share my story and will open the doors that He desires for me (someday that may lead to a bigger income or to writing a book, who knows?)  I will pray that a person prospers….or practices good sportsmanship or plays to the best of his/her ability….but if one wants to increase his/her income or become rich (no harm in that, I suppose) then my prayer might be that he/she is able to do well in an interview and get a higher paying job.  There is no EASY way out in this life; at least I’ve never found one!  Certainly there are those individuals in this world that seem to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth….born into a rich family….athletically gifted or extremely intelligent…..but most of the people I know that have become successful in life (however YOU define that….money?  Nah, not me.  Fame? Nope, don’t care about that either. Great athlete/awards/trophies? Never won a trophy for any of that) have done so because they have worked VERY HARD in life. Your grandpa or dad was probably a very hard worker…maybe working 30+ years at the same factory job, day in and day out….and now is enjoying retirement comfortably….but worked long hours in tough conditions, scrimped and saved over the years, and is now reaping the rewards of years of a strong work ethic.  Those college/professional athletes, Olympic stars, singers/dancers…whatever…. put hours and hours of practice in to develop their talent. Most people have to WORK HARD to reap results.  So sure, I’ll pray that their hard work pays off….but not that they will just be HANDED a million dollars.

I especially feel this way about praying for a person to lose weight or make a big life change.  I have never prayed that I would get thin; nor will I pray that anyone else does.  Rather….every day….I pray about my journey and I ask for God’s grace to continue on this road to wellness. My prayer, for me….and for you too…. is always, first and foremost, one of GRATITUDE…(even when I was 400 pounds….and 300 pounds…and 200 pounds)  Every day I thank God for paying the price for this victory….(I prayed that all along, even when I was extremely obese, God had ALREADY won the battle on the cross; I just hadn’t fully embraced that) and Thanking Him for supporting me on this journey…for setting me free from a life of obesity/disability/emotional eating. I then ask that I be given the strength to walk in that victory… stay motivated….to make healthy choices each day… have the desire and the discipline to stay strong.  I also pray that God will replace the temptation/desire/hunger in me for things that are not nourishing for my body…… sugar and junk food….with a hunger/desire to do good; to help others; to stay focused; to be a better, kinder, more loving person, etc.  I ask God to remove the temptation to eat when I am not hungry; when I am tired or stressed (all emotional eating)…and to eat only those things that my body needs to function well and remain strong.  I ask Him to bring my body into line with that perfect weight (whatever that is…might even be 200 pounds for some) that He created me to be. God created each of us different, unique, and beautiful and in all shape and sizes. What a boring world it would be if we all were 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighed 125 pounds. I have no desire to be a size 6…..I just want to be healthy and to be at/maintain the weight that God created/desires me to be.  I’m not a theologian but I don’t believe that God made me fat; nor did He make me thinner.  He allowed me to make the choices that caused me to be 400+ pounds and he loved me then….and He helped me make the choices/changes to lose weight….and he loves me now. So sure… I pray….every day of this journey and give Him every single bit of the glory for this miracle for without Him, none of it would be possible, but I did not…..and will not….pray to become a size 6. You may have a different philosophy and that is okay with me…because, although we are on this journey together, each one of us have a personal walk and we all think differently.

So… assured that if you ask me to pray for you on your journey, I absolutely will…..but I will pray for you as I pray for me….First….gratitude for the blessings in your life. Then….I will pray that you are strong enough to resist temptation…..motivated enough to keep working…..and that your hard work/effort will be rewarded/reflected with the results that you want…..and finally that God will use YOU….your struggles/triumphs to help others; and that In and through your journey, He will be glorified.

Prayer Can/does bring about miracles….but your miracle is from within… you think/feel/act….the kind of person you are transformed into when you invite God into the equation……and THEN…that transformation is reflected physically.   Don’t give up on your miracle….but perhaps…if you are struggling, you should think about HOW and WHAT you are praying for. 

Have a great day today………