Praying What You Really Don’t Want to Pray

Psalm 56-3


Sometimes I’m afraid to pray those ‘dangerous’ prayers even when I know deep-down that’s what I should pray for.

But it’s like giving God permission to interrupt my life, letting Him move on into my heart and mind with cleaning supplies and uncover all the dirt I’ve hidden away.

So, I sat there holding the prayer card, debating whether to write the truth down.

I’ve been making these prayer cards for my family, friends and others I pray for.  I have a card for my husband, for each of my children, one for the unsaved, one for church and another for Bible study, and a card for me.

The cards are growing over time.  I scribble down my requests for my kids and then the next day I find the perfect verse to pray, so I jot it down on the back of this 3 x 5 white index card with a Sharpie marker.

I’m not writing the little requests that change day-to-day:  a fever, a bruise, a big math test.

These are the prayers about character and life, big decisions,using their gifts for God’s glory, spiritual growth and their future.

For each child, I know what I need to pray.  One needs to grow in forgiveness.  Another in self-discipline and overcoming fear.  Another in being teachable and accepting grace.

But I pause, my hand hovering over the card.

Do I write down’forgiveness?’  What if God allows my daughter to be hurt because of my prayer?  What if He allows pain so deep that she has to fight through bitterness to choose to forgive?

What about “teachable?”  Do I dare write that down?  What if God humbles my daughter through excruciating failure, brokenness, and the lessons of humility?

We Christians have joked about it so often, “Don’t pray for patience!!!”  That’s what we remind each other and then we laugh in agreement because, truth is, God has taught us all some of those painful lessons in patience.

And we didn’t like them.

So, we’re afraid to pray.

Yes, I am afraid to pray, too.

I know why.  It’s a trust thing.  I’m not believing the best about God.

The truth is that God won’t bruise or break if  a gentle lesson, a sweet whisper could change our hearts.

He never answers our prayers for patience with trials just because He’s mean like that.  Or He likes to hurt us.  Or He can’t come up with another way to teach us.

If I pray for my daughters to grow in these areas, I can trust Him to teach them in the best way, the perfect lessons at the perfect timing, and if their hearts are yielded and moldable clay, He’ll use the gentlest touch to fix the imperfections He finds.

And the truth is that if it’s breaking we need, He’ll allow the brokenness so that He can reshape us and form us into something beautiful: into the image of His Son.

But even then, I can trust His hand.  I can trust His love for us and the grace He pours out and the way He never gives up.Praying with prayer cards

As I read in Genesis, I think how Jacob must have been so afraid.  I recognize it now as I look at him: one fear-filled human looking into the heart of another fear-filled human.

Jacob lost his son Joseph.  So, when his remaining sons trekked off to Egypt for food during an intense famine, he had one demand:  They had to leave his youngest son, Benjamin, behind.  He couldn’t lose another son.  Not ever again.

It seemed to work at first.  The boys brought home grain from Egypt and the youngest son stayed home.

But the food ran out again and Joseph had made it clear—-no younger brother in Egypt, no more food.

Jacob either needed to trust God or his whole family would starve.

And God let Jacob reach the very end of all his resources so that Jacob would finally let go of control and send all his sons back to Egypt, Benjamin included (Genesis 43).

This was God at work.

Jacob was terrified, but God was in this.  He was working for the reconciliation of Jacob’s family and the preservation of the entire nation of Israel.

But as long as Jacob held on tight to control, not wanting the possibility of pain, he missed out on God’s best.

We can trust God with our hearts, with our lives, with our children, with our marriages.  We can trust Him with all of it.

So, I write down those prayer requests on the prayer cards and I entrust my children to His care.  I tell Him that I’m afraid.  I tell Him the truth about what’s in my heart.

But I trust Him and I let go.


 Want to learn how to pray with prayer cards?  I first read about them in Paul Miller’s book, A Praying Life.


Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2015 Heather King

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