a prayer God won’t answer

Posted: March 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

A friend of mine once asked God, amidst a passage of struggle, to take away her will.  This made her prayer something along the lines of, “Just MAKE me do what’s right!”  She didn’t pray this lightly or in some attempt at manipulation.  She was just desperate and tired of her own attitudes and decisions, I think.  She meant it with all her heart.  She wanted to walk with the Lord, and she knew that her own desires, natural tendencies, and thought processes were sabotaging her, it seemed.

God didn’t take away her will.  That was when I heard from her about what she’d asked; her disappointment was deep.  I wasn’t amidst the struggle, so I had more clarity to stand back and think that of course He hadn’t – it’s not the way He works.  He’s really into the free will that’s a necessary element of real love.  Not wanting to add to her substantial pain, I didn’t point that out.  I didn’t understand her plea at the time; since then I have walked through enough of my own struggles to totally get what she was trying for.

“God is not going to make you more disciplined,” our pastor said a few weeks ago near the end of his message.  “We have to make that choice.”  I think he’s right about that, and I know I’ve spent a lot of time in my life asking God to do just that – basically praying that same prayer of my friend – the prayer I “knew” at the time would always fall flat.

It does seem that the life of faith would be simpler and easier if God would just get out the big ol’ God-vacuum, flip open our lid, and suck out everything in us that is lazy, self-seeking, or just plain stubborn, doesn’t it?  Why should we have to WORK at our growth, when He could just turn us into little automatons that always do things His way without resistance or resentment?  Since He’s all-knowing and all-powerful, why won’t He just rewire our brains to save us from sabotaging ourselves and others?

Once upon a time, I told my junior high Sunday school class a story about that.  Say that a guy comes across a girl, and he finds her to be lovely and desirable.  He wants to be with her.  So he invites her over for a date, and once the attraction has found to be mutual, he locks her into a room.  There, he only lets her eat what he has decided is best for her.  There, he only lets her see and hear what he wants her to see and hear.  There, he keeps her tucked away from being tempted to pursue anyone else.  Oh, he is very sweet with her and he never leaves that room – but while he has a choice about leaving, she does not.

Would we call that love?  Nope.  If we caught him doing this, we’d put him away in his own little locked room, wouldn’t we?  We’d rescue her.  She may well need therapy to help her recover.  She may never actually be the same again – the damage from his “love” might well be permanent.

This is why God doesn’t just flip off the “will” switch in us when we come to faith.  While it SEEMS like it would make our lives easier, it wouldn’t be love.  It would be captivity.  We cannot be truly ourselves, fully who He created us to be, in forced captivity – that’s the horror of incarceration, isn’t it?  The inability to choose is always  a tragedy for us, even factoring that many of the choices available to us would be terrible in a multitude of ways and layers.

God is not going to remove our wills, no matter how sincerely we beg Him to.  He is not going to make us more disciplined – that’s a choice we get to make.  We get to decide how closely we walk with Him, or we can choose the “not at all” option at any point.  It feels like a hardship, but it’s actually a sign of respect – evidence that He wasn’t playing when He said that we are made in His image.  Proof that, as some like to say, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He doesn’t force Himself upon us.

I needed the reminder that He won’t make me more disciplined.  While I would never presume to ask that question on many fronts – it would be obvious to me that it’s pointless! – on other fronts, I regularly expect and ask that very question in other ways, never recognizing it as such.

It seems like Good Friday is an appropriate time to meditate on making the choice to “die to our flesh” – to submit ourselves to discipline, trusting that as we do so, what He will raise up in us will be new life and wild hope.


  1. Cindy Maynard says:

    Love this post! A whole new way of thinking of God’s love for me. Thank you!

  2. Kathy Willsea says:

    The prayer I’ve resorted to in despiration is:”Show me what to do, and make it SO OBVIOUS I CAN’T MISS IT–because you know I will blow it on my own.” He has honored this a bunch of times. On Mar 25, 2016 3:54 AM, “clumsy beautiful life” wrote:

    > karen posted: “A friend of mine once asked God, amidst a passage of > struggle, to take away her will. This made her prayer something along the > lines of, “Just MAKE me do what’s right!” She didn’t pray this lightly or > in some attempt at manipulation. She was just despe” >

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