Bottom Line On Top: For the first time ever, I prayed before I left this morning that I would have a good run. And much to my surprise (and joy and praise back to God) I did!
I didn’t really have specifics about what “good” would entail. I just knew that the last two weeks I had been out running and would go to log my workout on the daily mile, it would have seemed fitting for violins to be playing a sad song in the background as I recapped my miserable run and hoped for sympathy at what I had to endure. But not today! I just felt happy the whole time (and I had to run 8 1/2 miles). The heat and humidity didn’t feel quite so intense, I saw hot air balloons flying high off in the distance, I was enjoying listening to my audible book, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, and my body felt great (not tired and winded in the least). My mind was in a happy place and it was so enjoyable. Even over the last couple of miles, when I started listening to music, there was still a surplus of energy and I would often look down at my garmin and see that my pace was too fast for this run. Having to tell myself to ‘slow down jo’ was just an extra bonus to such a great morning. I was simply amazed!
And if you have any desire to know why I would ask (or why I had never asked before) read below. I have been learning some amazing things about the generous heart of our loving Father and his desire to give good things to His children; and how prayer connects those two attributes, all the more allowing us access to experience His ever caring presence in our lives.
…You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:20)
Maybe it was my friend Angela’s own words or maybe she was quoting from the book, “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller that we are going through this summer, but the comment “God is a lavish giver” really impacted me in a new way this past week.
One of the chapters we discussed last Thursday focussed on the struggle most believers have with asking God for any and all things. Sure I pray for requests I believe to be of eternal significance. I have no hesitation for prayers that God would reveal His truth to my children and for assurance of their salvation, or for friends and family and their growing faith in difficult times. But apart from such prayers like safety in travel, a family that loves the Lord and one another, and employment for Rob, I have rarely come to the Lord with real personal petitions that reside deep in my heart and matter specifically (and somewhat selfishly) to me.
Running and my faith have mostly been two separate worlds for me. I had linked them together once when I reflected on what my running teaches me about faith with this post: “everything I need to know about life I learned from running“. But that was as far as it went, and I never invited God to join me in my running or to bless my running. Even when I was 2 weeks away from my last marathon and feeling very sick and crappy, I was reluctant to ask God for healing and a recovered body that would be fit and prepared to run 26.2 miles. My rationale was that the sickness could be a good teaching moment for me. I summed up my slow time believing that perhaps God was trying to reveal that my affections and desires were more for my goals as a runner than my faith in Him, or it was to keep me humble, or maybe it was to teach me about finding joy in Him in the midst of disappointment and defeat in the world. And while that could very well be true (God does want to be Lord of our life and wants to grow our character), I was missing another truth about God.
If you… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11)
The book, ‘A Praying Life’ has made me aware that I have an unbalanced faith in God. I see Him as infinite and all-powerful and good, but I never let the Biblical truths that He is personal and interested in me sink in and affect the prayer part of my relationship with Him. A sad point was made in one of the chapters when it stated, “deep down, we just don’t believe God is as generous as he keeps saying he is.” And how disappointingly true that observation is in my own praying : ( It is so evident that there are way too many areas in my life that are prayerless because I don’t ask to see the goodness of God in them. So now, I am trying to learn knew things from this and make changes in how I pray. I want to be continually lifting up prayers that reveal I believe whole-heartedly in the generosity of God and the gifts He would love to bestow! And rather than simply making assumptions about what I should be learning or how I can see God at work through my circumstances, I should rather be praying for things (anything, God already knows what I want anyways) and THEN allow Him reveal to me through those prayers what He wants me to understand about Him and His plans for me and others.
So today, before I set out for my scheduled long run, I asked for a good 8.5 miles. I have been missing that joy I used to have when running for some time now and desperately wanting it back. But I never brought that before the Lord. My rationale was how purely selfish it was and that I should instead be focussing on how suffering through a training program could teach me necessary lessons on perseverance and steadfastness in my faith. But how limiting of the Lord is that! Just as God does indeed want me to learn and grow in my faith and character, He also wants to bless me. He is a lavish giver!! I need to be asking for all things near to my heart and THEN see how God is at work in those requests.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful & thankful
Would I have had a good run without praying? Maybe. Some might say I was ‘giving God credit to what would have happened anyway.’ And maybe I wont have a good run every time I pray for it. But because I am including God in my wishes for my running, I am able to see Him at work in that area of my life – at times He will bless me with an enjoyable outing and others He will want to impress upon my heart other things about perseverance and faith in the harder times. But I get to see all of that when I pray. And I don’t have to figure out how this all works, I am just called to “ask boldly and yet surrender completely” as I trust in the Lord.