This past week I attended a conference for just for me. No speaking. No panels. Nada.
That’s a big deal.
My day job involves speaking at conferences, retreats, and leadership events, so signing up for an event to simply attend and receive is an unusual yet beautiful form of self-care.
But when it comes to Leading & Loving It, I registered a ticket and place in the calendar to be refreshed, renewed, and refocused. The conference is designed for pastor’s wives (check) and women in ministry (check, check).
I cannot recommend the event enough. The line-up of speakers including the brilliant Lori Wilhite, melt-your-face-off teacher Tara Jenkins, pee-your-pants funny Julie Richard, heart awakening Noel Yeatts, captivating Hosanna Poetry and so many more. These incredible women challenged, encouraged, and made us howl with laughter. I left the event with bubbling with joy.
But the words of one speaker keep haunting me in the most beautiful way.
She shared how she had prayed a prayer for a long time… a good and holy and beautiful prayer… and her prayer wasn’t answered. Meanwhile, she’d seen others praying the same prayer and theirs was answered. That’s a hard place.
Maybe you know that place. The place where you’re praying for a child and everyone else is celebrating baby showers. The place where you’ve apply for dozens and dozens of jobs and everyone you know is employed and getting promotions. The place where you’re experiencing foreclosure while those you know sleep secure. Maybe they’re even upsizing.
The place where it appears everyone else’s prayers are being answered except yours.
From that place, can you pray the wrong prayers?
I believe God hears every prayer, every groan and gutterance, that’s offered up in prayer. In that place, there are no wrong prayers. But maybe, just maybe, there are better prayers.
Or maybe ones that shift our focus.
“Sometimes we want our circumstances healed, when God’s at work healing our hearts,” she said.
Those words provided a balm to my soul.
Because how often have I prayed…
God fix this. God solve that.
God do this. God do that.
God make this better. God make that better.
In every prayer, I just want God to change, to heal, my circumstances…
But what if, like my new friend says, God wants to heal my heart.
I keep a well-trod prayer list in the back of my humongous Bible. Several years ago, I scribbled the words, “Thank you God, just as it is,” at the toward the top of the page. This was a prayer of and for contentment.
Since last week, I’ve been praying, “Thank you God, just as it is, please heal my heart.”
Perhaps the prayer is most powerful not for what is says but for what it doesn’t say.
There’s no asking for circumstances to change, but rather change me in the midst.
And I’m finding fresh peace and contentment and gentle shifts inside.
My challenge to you this week is simply to pray for heart change alongside (or maybe even more than) circumstance change.
That you’ll join me in praying:
“Thank you, God, just as it is, please heal my heart.”