Tuesday 30 April 2019

Who Are You Praying To?

“Just stay with him.”

I knew what they meant. I knew that my father was dying. Despite his sharp mind and intellect, his body was tired, and the end was drawing near. Yet, that last night, with my body aching and my soul tired from hours of being ‘strong and present’, I left for home. In desperate need of a rest, I missed my father’s passing.

Don’t worry, I’ve come to grips with not being there. But what still haunts me is my surprise when I got the call. It’s not that I didn’t know to expect it—with my training in the medical field I had seen all the signs. I had even helped prepare my family. But secretly and silently I had been praying that God would extend his life just a little bit longer . . . long enough to get home, long enough for my sister to arrive . . . long enough . . .  to prove the doctor’s wrong.

But God didn’t.

Neither did He answer the way I longed for when my brother went missing at sea. I prayed for a miracle. I imagined all the ways the story could end, not wanting to let my mind pause too long on the one ending that grew more and more probable as time went on. But eventually, I had to accept that he wasn’t coming home and there would be no answers. 

God had chosen another way, again.

Psychologists say that we tend to remember the negative in greater detail than the positive. Perhaps, that is why when I’m praying about the big mountains in my life, somewhere in the back of my mind I tend to remember when God didn’t. By allowing my thoughts to drift and settle on my unanswered prayers, I unwittingly open the door for doubt to saunter in . . . doubts about God’s willingness and His goodness.

It is then that I need to remember who I am praying to.

God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism ~
Just reading those words brings the truth front and center—I am not God and God is not me.

If I were to unpack them ever so slightly, this is what I would find.

From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Psalm 90:2

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? Saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? Saith the Lord. Jeremiah 23:24

It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them as a tent to dwell in. Isaiah 40:22

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:5

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and lofty place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. Isaiah 57:15

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. Deut.32:4

For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:5

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Exodus 34:6

For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 117:2

When I chew on those verses, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that this infinite, eternal, all-powerful God should think of me, and I’m reminded of all the times that He cared for me.

Like the time I started having preterm contractions at just 14 weeks pregnant, and I prayed earnestly for God to save my baby. What followed was bed rest for most of my pregnancy and a wonderful opportunity to learn dependence on God in a whole new way. When I held my healthy newborn in my arms, I praised God for answered prayer.

Or the time I prayed for my father to make it back to our island home after a medical procedure overseas that went awry. Watching him have those last few months in the company of his grandchildren was an answer to prayer I would always be grateful for.

There have been many more answered prayers—prayers for protection, for healing, for wisdom, for provision, and countless outpourings of mercy.

Turns out I need to be intentional.

When I sit before God, facing another mountain and crying out to Him for help, when the doubts creep in and threaten to confound my prayers, I need to remember who I am praying to.

I need to purposefully remember all the answered prayers, all the undeserved mercy, all the good He has bestowed on me. I need to take the time to list them out, to review them, to remember His faithfulness to me.

I need to remember that God’s wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth have no limits. They are infinite, eternal, unchangeable. His work is perfect, and He does not withhold anything good from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11 - Thank you, Jesus!). God sees what I cannot. He always knows what is best, and He always does what He says He will do. He can do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).  In other words, God has the power and the wisdom and the goodness to answer my prayers in the best way even when I don’t understand. 

As a limited human being this is hard to accept sometimes. Yet when those hard times come, God walks right beside me just as He promised he will. And with a oh-so-personal touch, He comforts me and reassures me that I can be real with Him. I can pour out my hesitations, my uncertainties to Him, I can trust that He understands . . . and I can depend on Him to guide me, sustain me, and answer my prayers.

This is the God I pray to.

What about you?

Who do you pray to?
Do you sometimes allow your doubts and unanswered prayers 
to distract you from who God really is?

If that is the case, I invite you to spend some time 
meditating on God’s word and recalling His faithfulness to you.

There is none like God, O Jeshurun, 
who rides through the heavens to your help, 
through the skies in his majesty. Deut. 33:26

Grace and peace to you, 



  1. Yes, Carlie, sometimes we do forget who we are praying to. Thank you so much for this deep and thoughtful reflection, reminding us to count the blessings God has given us, and not dwell on the times we felt He didn't hear/answer our prayers.

    1. Thank you, Martha, I so appreciate your presence here. Thanks for walking beside me and relating to my experience. Let's keep our eyes and hearts fixed on our God. Blessings, my friend!

  2. This is a good reminder for all of us: "It is then that I need to remember who I am praying to." We all will be disappointed throughout life when we don't get the answers we pray for, but remembering that God is always good will keep us returning to him anyway.

    1. Amen, Lisa! Remembering will keep us returning! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  3. It is such a delicate balance to have that intimate relationship with God without forgetting who He is, forgetting his holiness, his majesty. When we can find that place, may we hold tight in reverence and relationship both.

    1. Balance- there it is again!🙂Praying God will grant me that balance. Thanks for visiting and for your insightful comment, Rebecca!

  4. Such good advice here! It all boils down to trust. Do we trust He knows what is best ... even when He says no?

    I, too, get "overwhelmed with gratitude that this infinite, eternal, all-powerful God should think of me." What is man that He is mindful of him? It blows my mind the Creator of the Universe is intimately involved in my life!

    1. Yes, Jerralea, it all boils down to trust. And how can we trust the One we do not know? I want to know Him more and more, and I’m so grateful that He allows us to know Him.

  5. Thanks for leaving this link on First 5 this morning.
    I shared a portion with my daughter because she and her husband are facing some major decisions and I’ve been trying to encourage them to remember who has the answers!
    My daughter was raised to believe, pray, and trust God - even when the answers were not what we were wanting or hoping for in our limited vision, but her husband struggles yet to be dependent on God for direction, relying more their human abilities for answers.
    Your post was timely not only for them, but also for me as I Pray for them.
    Thank you

    1. You're very welcome, Joan! To God be the glory! May we always remember the power, might, love, mercy and wisdom of our God. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. Praying God's wisdom for your daughter and her family as they navigate the tough decisions ahead, and for you as well as you support them through it all. Blessings to you!


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