Whose Answer to Prayer?

For some time, I’ve been praying some pretty significant prayers about somebody close to me.

There were some changes that I thought would be healthy for him to make in his life, but I very much did not feel the freedom to talk to him about them.

So I went over his head, and talked to his Father.

(It’s probably appropriate to point out that part of my prayers were for healthy changes in his life, but the larger portion were about getting my will out of the way. I sometimes find it a challenge to pray for people’s choices in a way that still respects their free will for their lives ahead of my own will for their lives. And the more I care for them, the bigger that obstacle is for me. Sigh.)

Last week, my friend asked me to go for a walk with him, and as we started, he said he had something to talk about, and he did not want my advice or counsel. (I interpreted that as, “This is pretty serious for him!”)

Then he explained how he had come to some conclusions and abruptly made several of the changes that I’d been praying for. I barely kept from jumping and dancing around him, so happy I was about him. 

We walked for several miles while he vented and I listened. I asked a couple of questions, but otherwise didn’t hardly say anything: this wasn’t about me; it’s about him. Toward the last mile, we discussed some of his goals for how to walk out these changes, and how I could support him and his changes.

I spent several days rejoicing.

A few days later, as I was talking with Jesus about my friend, supporting his changes in prayer. 

And then I recognized something kind of dangerous in my thinking. I was praying for my friend’s success in the area of these changes, when God quietly uncovered some things in my heart. I was seeing this as about me: these were my prayers that were answered, and I felt a responsibility to reinforce the answers in continued prayer.

I became aware that yes, my prayers had some not-insignificant effect here (He never tells me how much), but this isn’t my victory. This is God’s victory that He s sharing (and working through) with His son, my friend. This is not about me.

I’m still invited to pray for my friend’s victory, but I’m not invited to take ownership of the change, to take responsibility for his continued success.

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