GenerousChurch

Praying for a Good Time

by GenerousChurch  |  November 11, 2015

I don’t know that any of this will make sense.  But, if it’s going to have chance, you’ll have to read this quote slowly and carefully.

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don't want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of 'good time' is seldom in sync with ours.”  ― Oswald Chambers

I love that.  The only problem is that I am not quite as refined as Oswald Chambers.  So, when he says “[God’s] idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours,” my mind wants to wander.  I really wish he would have said, “God’s idea of a ‘good time’ is not in sync with ours.”

In my mind, that statement wouldn’t mean that God has a poor sense of humor or that He is a bore to hang around.  It actually means the opposite.  It means that because of our prayerlessness and our insistence that we do things our own way, we typically miss out on what it really means to have “a good time.” And to move the idea back toward Chamber’s actual meaning, we also miss out on the beauty of God’s timing.

Think about the timing aspect with me (the way he actually intended the quote to be read).

Have you ever considered the gifts that Jesus would have missed out on if He would have lived as prayerlessly as we often do?  I imagine He would have shown up around Lazarus’s tomb a couple of days earlier.  After He called Lazarus out of the tomb, the skeptical world would have quickly stated… “That happens all the time to people who have been out for a day.  Lazarus was just in a deep sleep, so don’t insult us with your talk of miracles.”  If He wouldn’t have listened to the Father and delayed His arrival, the story would be completely different.

Or what if Jesus – because He had been fishing in Galilee – missed His appointment with the cross during Passover?  What if He failed to listen to the Father and never went to Jerusalem?  The middle-eastern newspapers would have read, “Jesus says he is the Son of God…but he’s certainly no Passover Lamb.”

It’s a good thing that Jesus walked in sync with the Father.  His life demonstrates that God’s timing matters.  And if we want to experience “a good time” in the beauty of His good time, intentionally listening to the Father is paramount.  In the context of his real quote, Oswald Chambers makes that point clear.

If you can be ADD with me for a minute, let’s drop the prayer talk and go back to the imaginary quote – “God’s idea of a ‘goodAnne Lamott
time’ is not in sync with ours.”
  In her book, Help, Thanks, Wow, Anne Lamott talks about the difference between what we consider a good time and what God thinks of as a good time.  She says,

God’s idea of a good time is to see us picking up litter.  God must love to see us serving food at the soup kitchen…or hear us calling our meth-head cousin just to check-in because no one else in the family speaks to him.  He can be long-winded and a handful, but we used to put each other’s peas in the glasses of root beer at holiday dinners, so we have history together.  With two other cousins, we took naps together in one big bed.  So, we pick up the two-hundred-pound phone, dial his number, and say, “How are you?”

I really believe that God’s idea of a good time is to see us sharing what we have worked so hard to have, or to see us flirting with the old guy in line at the health food store, telling him our grandfather had a hat just like his even though that is a lie.

In other words, God’s idea of a good time is not always the same as our idea of a good time.  We think it would be fun to blow a few dollars on ice cream.  He says it would end up being a lot more fun to blow the leaves off our irritating neighbor’s front lawn.  We think it would be fun to mindlessly veg-out in front of the TV.  He says it would be a lot more fun to mindfully write a note of encouragement to a hurting friend.  We think fun is pursuing selfishness.  He says it’s a lot more fun to pursue selflessness.

When I initially read the quote from Oswald Chambers, my haphazard mind blended these two thoughts.  We’re not patient and prayerful enough to wait on God’s timing…and as a result, we often miss out on God’s good time.

So, how can we get back in sync with God’s “good time?”  I think the answer resides somewhere in the middle of listening prayer and full-life generosity.  The combination of those two things has a way of dropping us into God’s most magnificent everyday activities…at just the right time. 

Here are two quick prayers to get us started on the journey to God’s good time:

 

Prayer 1

 

Open my ears so that I can hear Your voice, Father, and

Your prompts toward service. 

Open my eyes so I can see where You are at work

and join You.

Attune my heart to Yours,

that I may walk in sync with You throughout this day.    

 

Prayer 2

(Insert your name in 1 Timothy 6:18)

 

“I pray that ___________ would be rich in good deeds, generous, and willing to share.”


 

To dig deeper into how to live prayerfully and generously, click on the resources below.

Prayerful Generosity
listening prayer
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