Last year I was teaching a math class at Saint Frances Academy and, as usual, we began the class in prayer. One of my seniors was anxious as she was awaiting word of admission to a fairly competitive college. Her prayer was simple – “Dear God, please get me into this school and get me a scholarship too!” The class erupted into laughter and debate. One of her classmates said, “You call that a prayer?”
Some of the best things that NEVER happened to me.
My student got into the school in question but the scholarship was not as big as she hoped. Nonetheless, she was determined to enroll. When she visited the campus shortly thereafter she decided that she actually hated the place. In her disappointment, she concluded that God wanted her to go elsewhere. When she informed me of her decision I told her, “I am convinced that I will spend half of eternity thanking God for everything he gave me; The other half thanking God for everything he didn’t.” She smiled and agreed.
How to pray.
We spend a great deal of time asking God for what we want. However, the spiritually mature Christian has learned to only hope for what we what. We should pray for what is best.
When reflecting on some of the greatest disappointments in my life, I realize now that had the decisions gone my way, I would not be nearly as happy as I am now. Had I gotten the job I wanted out of college, I would have never discovered how much I enjoy teaching at a Catholic high school. Had I gotten the house that I prayed for, I would not be living in a home that I love with neighbors whom I genuinely like. Any number of the decisions that I thought were setbacks in my life would have steered me away from a career that I enjoy and a wife that I love very much. In fact, those events were not setbacks at all but rather, course corrections.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom – 1 Cor 1:25
Brothers and sisters, approach God humbly and pray for wisdom above all other things. In other words, try not to tell God how you want something done. Instead, try asking God – “Is this what I really want?”