Be Careful What You Pray For

19 May

500109_23615100In my devotions one morning I read about giving thanks to God. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done,.” After I had read that verse, I had a new sense of what defined the word ‘worry’. Most often we think of worrying as something we do in our heads. But I started thinking that worrying could also roll over into the things we say and even how we pray! I even felt that complaining about something fell into the context of this verse. How can we thank God for everything if we are busy complaining about the very things we should be praising Him for?

Of course, this all sounded wonderful in my head at 4:30 that morning. So I decided that I would swear off complaining for the day. Every time I wanted to complain, I would just bow my head and praise the Lord. I asked God right then and there to help me focus more on praising Him and less on whining. This was when I learned a valuable lesson: be careful what you pray for. It turns out that if you ask God to teach you something, He will make sure that there are plenty of opportunities throughout your day to learn.

My opportunities began the second I arrived at work. (For those of you who don’t know, I was a chef at a little café.) That day was order day, and, although I was expecting a rather large order, I didn’t expect it to be where it was. Every box was in front of a refrigerator or freezer door. I couldn’t get into the walk-in or any of the coolers! I couldn’t even begin to open the restaurant until I put the entire order away! It was so frustrating. Lucky for me, it was still early enough that I remembered my early morning pact with God. So I said a prayer and thanked God that my order had arrived in a timely fashion. (It was the only thing I could think to be thankful for in that situation.)

The order got put away and the rest of the day passed without incident. Although I wasn’t perfect, I tried my best. I learned something about myself, though. I learned that my first response is usually a negative one. Even though I’m a pretty positive person, I found myself thinking negative thoughts in many situations. It’s just proof that the sin nature still has an influence in my life, even if it doesn’t have any power. All I can say is, “Thank you, God, for remaining faithful to me and bringing me to a better understanding of you and myself.”  I will continue to pray every day that God will help me be grateful for all situations, knowing with full confidence that He can, and will, work everything out for good!


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One response to “Be Careful What You Pray For

  1. Nathan

    June 4, 2013 at 3:38 am

    My first reaction, too, seem to usually be negative. I have had to endure many battles with other people in my 40 year career, and it has left me with some bitter disappointments to overcome. So let’s explore Disappointment for a minute.
    In the early days of my career (before I opened up my first store) I sold at swap meets on weekends and wholesaled items to other dealers that had a store. My life was wonderful then, and my wife spoke well of me. We took a one-week trip to Maui, two weekend cruises, several one-week driving vacations (once to Death Valley in December and another time to Grand Canyon), several week-long missions trips (one to the HOPI reservation, and one to the Cherokee reservation), etc. We had a wonderful life. We had great cash-flow, because since my wife was a teacher, her school district covered all of our medical insurance (costs me over $1,600 per month now, every month). We had a lot of free time, and I was active in the church as a volunteer. I went golfing once a week with my dad. People in my life were happy with me and they actually listened to and respected my ideas. This was truly the best time of my life. That is what I would like to be restored to.

    Thinking about how my life was before I opened my first store it reminded me of the early days after I got my first store opened. I hired a guy named Mike McKinney to do my delivering for me, painting, pick up supplies, etc. I used to buy metal welding cart/dollies from Cal Tool out in Riverside (they eventually bought me out in 1999). Mike McKinney started crowing that I was paying too much for them and “If I had the tools and the welding machine, I could build these for you for 1/2 the price you are paying. Those guys are ripping you off, blah, blah, blah………..” He talked me into something that I would NEVER do today. Oh well, what I lacked in wisdom I made up for with my very strong faith. I had enough faith for both of us, Mike and me combined. He talked me into purchasing a Miller Synchrowave 250 heliarc/tig machine for him, including all the bells and whizzers. He talked me into purchasing all of the steel, wheels, bolts, nuts, paint, etc. needed to actually construct the metal carts with. I shelled out a ton of money on all of that, as I recall, almost $5,000. I completely set Mike up with his own home-based welding shop, and became his first and largest customer. When I think about what I did for Mike, I am amazed, because I NEVER EVER had anyone do such a thing for me.

    Things went okay for the first batch of welding carts. Mike delivered them to the shop after having built them quickly and with quality. My deal with him was that instead of paying him for the labor, I applied the labor toward paying off the equipment. After the first shipment things went downhill from there. Mike began to make excuses about why nothing was getting done. I actually had to start getting the carts from Cal Tool again. Then he started crowing that I was ripping him off on the labor since he “wasn’t getting any money…..” you get the picture, don’t you? All of a sudden, I became the bad guy. I set the guy up with his own business, but now I am the evil emperor. Well, he completely stopped delivering any carts, so I wasn’t getting paid for any of the equipment. Mike thoroughly blew his chance to build a great welding business. He flippantly blew off his big client. I had to get pushy with him about being paid for the equipment. Finally his daddy stepped in and paid off the balance of the welding machine, which was over $2,500. I got some of the metal parts back, but he apparently had started to build them and sell them to OTHER shops for cash, instead of honoring his agreement with me. I lost a lot of money due to the steel and parts not being returned to me. The whole situation created a loss for me right at the time I was trying to get my operation off the ground, and it put me under a lot of undue stress.
    I wonder what Mike is doing these days. I would like to venture an educated guess. Unlike me, who has built a great business, I am quite sure Mike is working for minimum wage. He never learned to honor a commitment, and his daddy bailed him out of his trouble. So, he’s just another faithless “Boobus Americanus” complaining about what he doesn’t have, and mad that “nobody ever gives me a chance!….” News flash Mike: you screwed up the one great chance you were given.
    Me: I got past it quickly and landed on my feet. But I sometimes make comments like “the more you try to help them, the more they hate you, and end up spitting on your kindness.” Just please understand where it comes from. When I finally get to heaven I’m going to ask the Lord to help me understand why people you try to help end up hating you the most. I’m sure his answer will be something like “I healed them, I fed them, I taught them, I rejoiced with them, and I cried with them. I saved them from the evil one, and I prepared a special place in heaven for them. They rejected me and hung me on a cross to die, even though I never sinned against them. Nathan, consider yourself blessed. For you truly understand what happened to me”.

    So, on balance, my disappointments cannot compare with those endured by Christ. But somehow, he still loves us, and has faith in us. So when I face a disappointment in my life, I try now to remember that Christ endured way more than I, so I must do no less. Like you said, he’s the greatest leader of men there ever was, and I choose to become more like him.


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