Just staying on the path, then, requires us to be dependent upon Him, which is probably what He planned all along. I want to share with you several prayers that I have used over and over again to help me see God’s path. The Lord is always faithful to answer these prayers.
• In my family’s culture, we frequently battle a “critical spirit.” We have a tendency to see the shortcomings in teachers, friends, co-workers, parents, the wait staff in restaurants, and the clerk behind the counter at the store. Since they are all human their shortcomings are real enough, but seeing their shortcomings just makes me miserable. So, one day it occurred to me to pray that the Lord would blind me to the shortcomings of others. I reasoned that if I didn’t notice how flawed they were, I wouldn’t be aggravated by them. As I prayed that prayer the first time, the Lord prompted me to add something else about my sight. The prayer became, “Lord, blind me to the failings of other people but given me clear vision for my own shortcomings.”
• Sometimes life faces us with challenges that are so confusing and complex that we really can’t figure out what would be the right course of action. What role do we play when our friends squabble? Which political actions or social causes should we support? How can we be sure that we are part of the solution and not part of the problem? Are we justifying our human inclination, or are we being guided by the Spirit? At these times I pray, “Lord, give me the power to see this situation as YOU see it, and give me the courage to look at what you show me.”
• By praying the above prayers I’ve developed a deep sense of how deeply flawed my human nature is. No matter how hard I try and no matter how convinced I am at the goodness of my intentions, disaster and failure are always lurking nearby. Sometimes I attempt grand things that I hope will bring glory to God. It might be things like church pageants or publishing books and writing blogs. Inevitably, in the midst of those endeavors, the fear of failure begins to clutch my heart. Will my efforts end up embarrassing the Lord instead of blessing Him? That fear has taught me to pray, “Lord, be merciful! Don’t turn me over to my own human limitations. Lift me up, Lord, above myself. Allow me to work and accomplish in the grandness of Your abilities and not my own.”
• And finally, there are times when a disappointment that we face seems overwhelming. The betrayal of a loved one, the failure of an endeavor, or the loss of something we value are all occasions of genuine and appropriate grief. But scripture reminds us that crying may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. How do we get through the night of tears and be ready to greet the dawn with joy? At those times I have found peace by praying, “Lord, show me how this issue fits into Your eternity. Let me see how important this will be in 50 years, in 100, or in 1000. Give me the faith to believe that You are collecting even these tears to use in the Kingdom that You are creating.”