God is Not Your Doctor’s Office

I keep thinking that I can’t be the only one who approaches prayer like I have to be super careful. I mean, I’m talking to the King of the universe, my Creator, my Savior, my GOD, and I’d better get this right. Right? Well, sure…

And I’d better not make any mistakes in how I ask, if I dare to ask for something.

And I’d better tack on that safety phrase, “if it’s Your will.”

I’d better be clear and ask for just what I want and not any more than I need.

But not for anything less than I need, either, because what if He only gave me what I asked for and I didn’t get anything extra that I might end up needing later. That would be bad.

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right. Praying to God.

For a minute there, I thought I was describing a visit to the doctor’s office.

There’s that sign on the wall. “Please keep your requests to two per visit. If you have additional needs, please schedule another appointment.”

And there was that one doctor who would always ask me, “Do you have any questions?” as he was backing out of the door, leaving the room. Leaving me with questions that I couldn’t ask fast enough.

When I was in nursing school, I had an instructor who taught us how to deal with the extra chatty, needy patient who wouldn’t let us get out of their room and on to the next patient. I always feel like that chatty patient.

I was the “needy” teenager who had to talk and hash things out. And then re-hash things out. And time spent with me was never enough. Still isn’t, really. I’m needy like that.

But my Father isn’t the doctor’s office with the sign saying “come back later”. He calls me His child. He says He’s never going to leave me or forsake me. He is near to me, whether I’m brokenhearted or joyful. “He raises up the needy” (Psalm 107:41) and I know that’s not really a verse about being emotionally needy, but it still resonates with me.

No, He doesn’t tell me to keep my requests to a minimum or require me to pray perfectly, asking for the perfect things in the perfect way.

He is merciful, and the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)

I don’t have to approach Him with trepidation, hoping that if I say it all the right way, He’ll hear me.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”1 John 5:14-15

He doesn’t keep His distance; he is near and I have nothing to fear when I come to ask Him for what I need or desire.

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:5b-6

He loves me more than any earthly father ever could and loves to give good gifts to me.

“Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11

So today, I’m asking Him to work patience in my soul, love on my tongue, cheerfulness in my face, and thankfulness in my heart. I’m asking Him to heal my son, heal my heart of the hurts that linger deep inside, provide just the right dress, to help me plan a menu, to show me how to find my missing earring, and to keep my baby sleeping through the night tonight. I’m telling Him how boring and tired and empty I feel today, how I need to be filled up with what He wants me to pour out to the little people in my care.

And it does my heart good to remember that as I’m casting all these cares onto Him, He bears them for me. He cares for me and He’s not backing out of the room as fast as He can.

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  1. says

    Good thoughts, Bethany! I know my mom encouraged me when she told me that whatever I am thinking, God is bigger and has heard worse. He *wants* me to talk with Him. I tend to be the opposite of you – i try to take care of it all by myself and let God help those “weaker” folk who *really* need him. I’ll just be over in this corner, gritting my teeth and being faithful. Because it’s all my own strength, really. I mean, you gave it to me, so it’s mine now. And i have to remind myself that it’s a *flow* of strength, not a one time donation – and I need His spirit, His presence, His wisdom and guidance, constantly. Because i am one of those weak ones, if i have to be honest… I need Him so much.

    • bethanybarendregt says

      So true, Stephanie! I think my neediness tends to stay bottled up inside and I forget that my Father in Heaven is ready to hear all my needs and I need to stop treating him like He’s too busy for me. I totally know what you mean about gritting my teeth in the corner and being faithful. That seems like the story of my life, unless I’m seeing prayer as a constant flow of giving things – requests, fears, concerns, needs – over to God and receiving what He wants to give me.

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