Looking Beneath the Surface

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit interecedes for the saints in accordance with God's will...Christ Jesus, who died...is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."--Romans 8:26, 27, 34 Yesterday, I shared about how we often are ungrateful beggars---recipients of the lavish blessings of God and yet still demanding more. How many times have we have brought our requests before the Lord and He answered them...but we failed to say thank you? Sometimes He doesn't answer us in the way He anticipated and so we think He didn't respond to our request. Sometimes it isn't what we wanted at all. Whether I like it or not, a "no" or a "wait" answer is just as much an answer as a "yes" one. Have I recognized those and thanked Him for those as well?

However, as I have confessed before, I am not very good at praying. At all. If I have a problem, I tend to try to fix it myself. Prayer isn't my first response. And because I think that I solved my own problems, I don't even think about thanking God for it. Instead I pat myself on the back and move on. Yet if I think about it, even if I did do the work, have I ever stopped to thank God for helping me to think out a solution? Have I thanked Him for the ability and strength to carry it out?

But then there are those issues that no amount of effort on my part is going to fix or change: health issues, irritating traits that in my husband or kids, sins that I just cannot seem to get rid of, no matter how hard I try. You know what they are.

In those cases, I must say that I am even more skeptical about praying. What's the use? They're not going to change anyway. I'll never change. God's not going to hear me anyways. When He's got poverty and famine and wars to deal with, my petty little issues aren't really worth praying about.

Over the past few months however, I have realized something. Even though I haven't been faithful to pray, He has been faithful to answer. Why? It surely wasn't because of anything I have done. It is only because both the Son and the Spirit have been faithfully praying for me, interceding for me, bringing those deepest issues of my heart, the fears, the seemingly unchangeable before the throne of God. He sees those quirks and irritations as well as the potential within the people I live with and prays for not just a cessation of that irritation or growth but that my loved ones become what He has always intended for them to be. He has been praying even when I haven't. It is those prayers that have been answered, prayers that I haven't even uttered, that I need to thank God for.

One of those areas for me was in our marriage. After the past few rocky years, Dan and I are at a place where we are starting to move together again. In fact, this weekend, we are going to be serving together, leading a couples' retreat up in Big Bear. We have dreamed of this day for many years, but because of our own issues and conflict, we didn't sense that it was the right time yet.

Anyways, as I was thinking about it, I realized that the very things that I desired for in my husband, God has answered. He is changing! He is taking leadership in the family. He is taking risks for the Lord. He is stepping out in faith. And it definitely was not because I prayed for these things. It is because this is in line with what God wills for my husband and Jesus is interceding on his behalf. (How much better it would be if I realized that and started praying for him earlier!)

In my journey toward learning how to look for God's blessings, I have realized that God has been answering many of the desires of my heart, whether I prayed for them by name or not. Have I taken the time to reflect and recognize His hand in these blessings in my life?

Will You join me on a treasure hunt today? What have been God's answers to prayers that you have prayed? Have you acknowledged them, regardless of whether they are in line with your desires or not?What are some of the deepest desires of your heart, those unspoken prayers, that God has answered for you? How has He answered prayers that you could not even find words for?

Sometimes His answers lie beneath the surface of what we see. Let us not forget to thank Him for the many ways He has responded to our requests.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for interceding so faithfully for me. Because You know the mind of God and You intimately know me, You are able to pray for me, my circumstances and my desires perfectly. Thank You for Your ministry to me in this way. Awaken my heart and open my eyes to see how Your prayers have been answered. I don't always see them. Thank You for being my advocate and my faithful companion. I love You. In Jesus' name, Amen.