November 29, 2011

The Unspoken "IF"

Think about how often you tell God you want His will for your life. It's a telling God loves hearing. Now, think about how often an "if" follows that prayer. It's an "if" God knows is there, even if you don't say it.

Our prayer may be, "God, I want Your will" while our heart may be crying "but only if [insert what you want more] is included in Your will."

I'll be the first to admit that, at times, I am guilty of the unspoken "if." I think the worst part about the "if" is how it completely contradicts the first part of the prayer. Wanting God's will is wanting God's will...period. The "if" simply shows where the heart's true desire really lies: with our will still in mind.

Truly wanting God's will takes a lot of faith and trust in His promises. I find the times in my life where I have trouble wanting His will more than my own are also the times I'm having trouble trusting Him. It's impossible to want God's will if you don't trust that His will is better than your own, and it's impossible to trust that His will is better than your own if you aren't seeking His will out in the first place.

What can, at the surface, seem to be a frustrating spiritual battle we have to fight daily, is actually an incredible opportunity we are given to grow daily. And recognizing the "if" even exists is a victory in itself. I think we can continue to be victorious by developing an attitude in prayer like David's in his prayer in Psalm 51:10,

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

The definition of pure is as follows:

1. free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter: pure gold; pure water.
2. unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous.
3. of unmixed descent or ancestry: a pure breed of dog.
4. free from foreign or inappropriate elements: pure Attic Greek.
5. clear; free from blemishes: pure skin.

I think our unspoken "ifs" can be seen as contaminators, modifications, inappropriate elements, mixed intentions, and blemishes; they taint our prayer for wanting God's will. Our "ifs" jeopardize the purity of our hearts. If we strive to eliminate our "ifs," with God's help (He doesn't require us to do this on our own), we in turn gain a heart more like Christ's. And who desired God's will over His own more than Jesus did? He had every opportunity to walk away from the will of God for His life (to die for us), but He didn't. Instead, Jesus endured.

Which brings me to the second element of David's prayer, a steadfast spirit. The definition of steadfast is as follows:

1. fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
2. firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
3. unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.
4. firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.
5. firmly fixed in place or position.

A pure heart and a steadfast spirit work together. A pure heart can be a difficult thing to strive for, but a steadfast spirit (staying fixed on God, staying firm in purpose and faith) allows God to do a working in us that we couldn't do alone, and having a pure heart makes it easier to stay "fixed" on the goal of developing a true desire for God's will more than our own. 

So take a look at your heart today. Are there unspoken "ifs" hiding? I encourage you (and myself) to ask God to help eliminate them and to ask for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit to do so.