Asking for Help the Way God Wants to Give It

We drove to the airport in the early dawn. It was dark and I was anxious as I usually am when we make this drive. I like to be earlier for flights than my husband does, so the trip can be a little torturous for me. I was also unsettled because we were leaving Bella our poodle, and my mom and dad, who are 14, 90 and 91, respectively. 

I lofted an arrow prayer asking God to prevent any hurricanes and to keep our Naples gang safe and well until our return. I made my request in a mix of guilt, fear, and confidence that God would protect my loved ones, as he always seems to do. I wasn’t negotiating, I was begging. Intercessory prayer is the official name for what I was doing. It’s a mainstay of traditional Catholic prayer and I use it frequently. It makes me feel like I’m doing something. Kind of like an early warning system for God, “Hey look over here—this situation needs your help.” 

Of late I’ve wondered about intercessory prayer. In my current spot on my faith journey, I’ve begun to focus on trying to replace my will with God’s will. The saints talk about it; surrendering our will to God’s will is key to spiritual growth.  But how does that jibe with intercessory prayer? How is seeking God’s will over and above my own, congruent with me also asking for things I think are needed? How do I square this? 

If not my first call, God is always my second. Part of my immediate work is making God my first call every time. God wants us to ask for his help. He longs for us to engage him in the smallest details of our lives. And he wants us to be reliant on him, to discard the illusion that we can do hard things, or anything really, on our own.  God doesn’t like us to think we are self-sufficient because it shuts him out. Plus, it’s not true. 

The other part of this work is to believe that God’s all-encompassing but frequently inscrutable, love for us means that God probably has a much better plan for the situation than we are capable of imagining. We may not always recognize God’s abundant love for us in the things that happen or don’t happen to us, but we can always trust that because of that love, God will bring the best thing for us to fruition at some point. 

So, I think the squaring up of asking versus trusting, is to do both. God wants us to ask him for what we want. And God wants us, in complete trust, to caveat our requests with, “If it is your will, can you help me do this or that?”  This gives God the proper respect, and an opening to do something beyond our wildest dreams.