There’s an old adage that God gave us two ears and one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. As a general principle, this works. We can all probably attest to a time that we were too quick to open our mouths only to wish in retrospect that we had listened a little more. While many people have been accused of being a “chatterbox,” I have never heard of someone who over-listened.
However, there is one time that we should be quick to use our mouths and that is when it comes time to pray. In fact, when it comes to petitioning God we should be eager to bring Him our concerns, our thoughts, and our feelings. Too often we enthusiastically share what’s in our minds with everyone else, and never think to take time to pray through the situation beforehand.
I was reminded of this recently when my husband and I faced a challenging situation. I am the type of person who likes loose ends tied up and a comprehensive plan in place. However, this situation had dragged on for months. As I was preparing to talk to my husband about it yet again, I was reminded of some wisdom that a friend had shared. “Make sure you’ve prayed about your concerns at least as much as you talk about them.” Immediately I was convicted. I was jumping to formulate a plan but hadn’t sufficiently prayed for the people involved. I was quick to spout my wisdom without first bringing it to the One from Whom all wisdom comes.
So I prayed. With intention and with specificity I brought my concerns to God. And instead of checking off the box and then moving forward with what I thought was best, I waited. I didn’t even bring up the incident to my husband until later that day when he called to tell me that progress had been made. Without any direct intervening on my end, God had worked. The situation hadn’t changed in months, but on the very day that I was intentional in praying for everyone involved, things begin to take place. And because I waited rather than meddling, I could clearly see His hand and His grace.
This shouldn’t be taken as a promise that God will always give us an immediate answer to our prayers. But it is illustrative nonetheless and it helps demonstrate at least four benefits of being quick to pray.
In The Right Hands
When we bring our concerns to God first, we rightly give them to the One who can wrought change and orchestrate any situation for His Kingdom’s purposes. I had waited months for the situation to change, and it didn’t. No amount of my worry or concern brought us any closer to resolution. But God can. In His timing and in His ways, He can change circumstances to accomplish what He wills. When we pray we are compelled to recognize that and we are then less likely to think that we have any control over things we do not.
When we pray first, it helps ensure that our hearts are aligned with His and that our desires mirror His own. This means that if and when we do talk about the situation we are doing so with God’s priorities in mind. It becomes less about getting our way and more about making sure that we are acting according to His. When we share our stress with others, especially those that care the most about us, they are likely to take our side and want to contend for our desires. Praying first helps ensure that what we desire is what God desires. And it helps us to talk about the situation in a way that brings glory and honor to Him.
When we pray first, it reduces the chance that we will create unnecessary tension and divisiveness in our relationships because we will have His love for those in the situation and those with whom we share. Sharing our concerns with others involves them in the situation, whether they are directly a part of it or not. This often means that they take on that which offends us and they seek to protect us. When restoration later occurs between us and the offending party, those that we share with may not be involved in our reconciliation. Therefore, they continue to think of the offending party in less-than-flattering terms.
Additionally, when we are eager to spill our thoughts we often say things thoughtlessly. We may hurt those that we love by “venting” to them in a way that demeans and dishonors them. Praying first helps protect our relationships because we are more likely to share in a mindful and loving way.
His Ways, Not Ours
When we pray first, we are more likely to see things from God’s perspective rather than our own. When we think about a situation, we tend to focus on how it affects us and our viewpoint is very limited. God, however, sees the big picture. Bringing our concerns to Him helps us remember that while we only see part of the equation, He sees it all. Realizing that His intentions may be different than our own, we can also trust that His purposes are for the best – not only for us but for all of His kids (Rom. 8:28).
Don’t Just Act, Wait
If you are anything like me, when you are upset or concerned about something you want to act. However acting rashly is rarely in our best interest. Instead, we need to bring those concerns to God and wait until our perspectives, our hearts, and our desires align with His. As we do so we may realize that we don’t need to act at all, but we do need to wait to see what He is going to do.