Layers of ivory piled heavenward for weeks – the kind of snow that melts and freezes a half-dozen times, leaving crusty layers like some seven-layer dessert gone horribly wrong.
We kept the yellow snow shovel propped right next to the front door that year, and the morning routine included scraping the icy cement in an endless litany of wind-swept mornings that wore on like a never-ending bad dream.
While I didn’t appreciate the morning call to shovel the entryway, the four-year-old at my side saw it as the very best kind of fun. Despite my best attempts to convince him to stay inside, he shuffled into his snow boots, threw on his winter coat, and literally ran into my legs as he aimed to stay in step with my shoveling.
His petitions began about a week into the journey through the blizzards, “Mom, can we go to the store and buy me a snow shovel?”
Day after day he asked for his own plastic snow shovel. Day after day I assured him we’d find him the perfect plastic snow shovel.
As the days wore onto weeks, his asking started to feel a little more like nagging. I found myself gently (and sometimes not so gently) reminding him that I’d find him a snow shovel, but I wasn’t running out to the store to find one immediately because the roads were bad, I was struggling with sickness, and learning to wait builds virtue.
We were a little over a week into the plight of the snow shovel when it dawned on me:
Like a child who asks his parent for the same thing again and again, all too often, I bring the same request to God again and again, speaking to him as if I’d never asked at all. I want to pray effective prayers, but I position myself as a beggar who is pleading with God, instead of positioning myself as the child of the King.
I beg for healing for months on end.
I make the same requests for loved ones year after year.
I ask for breakthrough in the exact same places for months . . .
. . . all as if I were asking for the very first time.
We’re told to bring our petitions to God day after day, to keep knocking, seeking, and asking, but what if the way we knock, seek, and ask matters more than we realize?
A Heart-shift to Replace Pleading with God
As Caleb kept begging for his shovel, I found myself daily reminding him that I heard his request, and a plan was in the works to head to the discount toy store and find the perfect shovel. I also offered a piece of advice, “Buddy, instead of begging me for the shovel every day, why don’t you thank me that it’s coming?”
And what if we were to adopt the same mindset when we’re waiting to see our prayers answered in full? Instead of making the same requests again and again in a desperate plea, what if we shifted our tone and began thanking God for hearing us and appropriating the answer to our prayers?
Pleading with God Might Look Like This Instead
Begging for healing would sound more like this:
“Thank you, God, for hearing my prayer for healing. I’m so excited to watch and see how this healing comes to fruition.”
Pleading for provision would sound more like this:
“Thank you for hearing my prayer for provision, Father. Thank you for the promise not to withhold good from those who walk blamelessly before you. I’m expectantly and excitedly watching to see how you bring this provision to pass.”
Pleading for breakthrough would sound like this:
“Thank you that although I haven’t seen it happen, this breakthrough is coming. I’m excited to watch for it to happen in your perfect timing.”
Replace Pleading with Gratitude
There are many reasons why we sometimes find ourselves waiting to see answers to our prayers; however, while we wait, we honor God by thanking him for what he is doing while we wait. We thank him that everything he does is for our good and his glory.
Like little Caleb, our hearts shift when we stop pleading as beggars and instead give thanks for what is coming. And while the wait is often longer than we would choose – while there are some circumstances in which we’re called to wait until we reach the gates of heaven – the promise for provision still stands.
We don’t pray with gratitude because it’s some kind of secret formula that will nudge God to act more quickly; instead, we pray with gratitude because something in our own hearts shifts when we offer prayers with the joy of gratefulness.
What Happens in Your Heart when Pleading becomes Thanking
That blustery winter, I’d been harboring some heavy requests of my own: requests about healing and provision and breakthrough that felt like crushing blows with each day of waiting. And this kind of waiting can be a joy-stealer.
However, as I shifted from prayers of desperation to prayers of thanksgiving for what I waited to see come to fruition, the gratitude did something in my heart. It pushed out the fear. It pushed out the worry. It ushered in the peace and joy I so desperately craved.
And when winter eased into spring with its intermittent flurries and daffodils poking through leaf-strewn earth, I had not yet seen one of those prayer requests come to fullness. But my heart had shifted from a posture of fear to a posture of joy. Restlessness was replaced with peace. Anxiety was pushed aside by hope. And sometimes this is the greatest gift of all: Joy, peace, and hope in the waiting.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on staceypardoe.com.
Featured Image by Milada Vigerova