There is a prayer that I pray that is dangerous. Dangerous because it is life changing. I’ve tried to remember when it was that I even started praying this prayer, because it has so long been a part of my prayer language. I’ve looked back through journals and notebooks and I think it was somewhere around ’06-07 that it began showing up.
∆ my ♥
See, I am a science & math girl. When you are trying to calculate the change in temperature, the change in velocity – the change in anything – you use a ∆ in the equation to stand for change. And maybe I was ahead of my time on texting codes or maybe I am just pure lazy, but it was easier for me to only write out the smallest word in the sentence and rely on symbols for the other 2. Either way it stuck. Every journal entry, every prayer, every quiet time ends the same. Change my heart. ∆ my ♥
When it first started it was because I really did realize that I needed it. I needed a heart change. There was so much that I was trying to do on my own and I just kept falling flat. Be a better mom, be a better wife, be a better friend, be a better Christian. I read all the books. I knew all the tricks. I knew that this sinful awful heart I had just held me back from being all I should be and doing all that I should do and so if God could just change my heart it would all be better. He’s in that business, right? Heart change? And so I prayed.
But I think what I was really praying back then was ‘Help me do what I should be doing’. ‘Help me be who I should be.’ That was my interpretation of heart change. Because you know the tree by its fruit, right? If I can just make a little good fruit, then that will be the proof that I (and everyone else) needs that I am good in the heart. So I made fruit. I did all the bible studies. I worked hard to be a good wife/mom/friend. I volunteered. I did this and stayed away from that. I had fruit. And everyone else saw my good heart….except for me.
Because I saw that my knee jerk reactions were still selfish. I was prideful and judgmental. I saw that there were a lot of days when I just didn’t want to be any kind of fruit bearer. I saw that I was taking on Jesus’ yoke alright but it wasn’t gentle and easy. It was another pack on top of the others I carried. And while it was a priority it wasn’t a delight to my heart. So I guess my heart hadn’t changed much at all, despite my fruit. Huh.
So I continued to pray – ∆ my ♥ – but with a twist. Help me to love what You love and hate what You hate. Don’t just give me a different heart, but give me Your heart. It is people that are important to You? Then make them important to me. Is it gossip and judgment that You despise? Make it that I despise them too. And so began the last few years of growth.
I have said this before – God rarely works in me in direct, easy to see pathways. He usually bombards me from all directions with something that He is desperately trying to get me to see. I may or may not see it, but typically what follows is me admitting “Yeah, I see that I am way off base here. But I haven’t the foggiest on how to practically work that out?” Then at some point – often months or years down the road – I can look back and see how that is an area where I am now more on base than I used to be. That it was being practically worked out in my life and I can’t tell you when/how that actually happened. The analogy I’ve used is that it’s like walking and walking and walking and not detecting any real incline, until you look back and realize that you are high on a mountain and thinking “I climbed this? When did I do that? How did I not catch the incline?” So it is in my walk with Him. So while I prayed for change in the form of loving what He loves and hating what He hates I found myself on random Wednesday having lunch with good friends and being in the midst of a conversation where I heard loud and clear from my heart “I hate this.” Whaaa? This is a conversation I have had a million times before and never questioned. A topic that, sure, isn’t the holiest thing in town but is far from evil. But yet I heard it. “I hate this.” And in that moment I knew — He had answered my prayer. Somewhere along the way He had planted in my heart a piece of His and that piece was letting me know that this was just not ok anymore.
I came home that day a bit in shock and completely filled with joy! It worked. I heard from Him. I asked for His heart in mine and by gosh there it was. And here is the BIG part —– DON’T MISS THIS!!!!
I loved that it was there. I saw that His was NOT a yoke of “Oh, I guess I can’t have these kind of convo’s anymore.” But it was “I don’t WANT to have these kind of convos anymore!” See the difference?? Where I had been praying ‘Help me do what I should be doing’. ‘Help me be who I should be.’ I realized that what I needed to ask was “Change what I WANT to be doing!” “Change who I WANT to be!” THAT is the heart change that I had all wrong. It’s not should – it’s want. It’s a change in our desires, not our behavior. Let me say that again – it’s a change in our desires. Selah.
Here is what I wished. I wished on that day that He would have completely torn that gruesome heart clean out of my chest and put His whole heart in me. Done. Every area of my life fully in tune with Him and His will. But He didn’t. He gave me that one little part. And here is what I have come to know about that:
- Had He given me everything that day, it would have been the end of me. Literally. Our full knowledge and understanding of Him, and our complete sanctification comes on the other side of glory. Like the Israelites who feared death if they caught just a glimpse of the holy God, the same holds true for me. Like it or not, one little piece was all my fragile heart could have held that day.
- He is incrementally adding pieces. Life is a highway alright, with potholes, roadkill, bad traffic and crazy drivers, so He is at no loss for new areas to change in my heart. Sometimes He gives me the heads up as to which area is the new construction zone and other times I just come skidding right up to it as I’m happily speeding along. But either way, He isn’t done with me by a long shot.
- I haven’t the foggiest idea what is best for me. When I look to the beginning of this story I see it plain as day. Even when I think I have it all figured out I have no idea. I pray what I think I need and He is gracious enough to say no when He has something better.
- That little piece of His heart that He did give me? It’s like a drug to me. I’m addicted. All I want is more of that. I absolutely now understand addictive behaviors and tendencies. I wonder if He builds them into us as a gift. Though often they are abused by Satan and wasted on drugs or alcohol or porn or whatever it may be, what if we are really meant to be addicted to Him?!
Where does that put me today? With a lot of peace and joy. Not because of my circumstances but despite them. Not because I’m doing it all right, but because I truly want to. The weight of legalism is off my shoulders. It is no longer a should do but a want to do. Massive difference. But do you know where else that puts me today? With a whole lot of restlessness.
He is stirring my pot again and I’m not sure what for. It’s no longer a check list of things I should be doing for Him and a happy heart when those boxes are all checked, it’s a restlessness for those areas in my life that have been tuned in to Him and scream out to me ‘Now what??’ It can truly keep me up at night and gnaw at me. Is there such a thing as a peaceful and joyful gnawing? Because that’s what it is. Without a stitch of guilt or condemnation involved, but a burning desire to get after it. Whatever it is.
And where do I go from here? I follow. And that following includes more dangerous prayers:
- Where do you want me to go?
- What do you want me to do?
- What do I need to just completely sever in order to move forward?
- What do I need to mend?
Because here is what makes these dangerous prayers – my answer to His response needs to be yes.
You want me to go there? Yes.
You want me to stay where I am? Yes.
You want me to work on this? Yes.
You want me to confess and confront that? Yes.
His heart surgery is not dainty or neat or without bloodshed and a recovery period. It’s like iron sharpening iron or branches being pruned or gardens being weeded – whatever biblical analogy you care to draw – it is messy work. But my restlessness is prompting me to say (and mean) Bring It! Prune! Sharpen! Cut!
And that is dangerous.
What if He tells me that something in the way I run my life is not right and it needs to go? What if it’s my comforts that I cling to? What if? What if??
So I cling to my original dangerous prayer. ∆ my ♥ . Change my desires so that when You come to me with the tough move I am ready to make it. Build my trust that You know better for me than I do. Grow my love for You and those around me that I am the last one I think of when being your hands and feet. Continue my restlessness for Your names sake.
∆ my ♥
∆ my ♥
∆ my ♥