Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pray Better ... Here's How!

Hi Friends,

Yesterday was my oldest daughter's birthday. In honor of the day, I spent some time remembering all the things she's taught me about God, life, and growing deeper in my relationship with Jesus.

Here's one thing that she taught me about having a better prayer life:

We were late. Again. I put my hands on my hips and called up to Bethany’s room. “Aren’t you ready, yet?”

She peeked out from the doorway to her room. “What should I wear?”

“You aren’t even dressed?”

“Should I wear my black tank top or the long sleeved shirt with the horse on it?”

I pointed toward the window where rain pelted the glass with steady intensity. “Did you look outside?”

Her glance followed my gesture. “Oh.” She paused and frowned. “But I wanted to wear the tank top.”

“Wear whatever you want, just hurry up. We’ve got to go.”

Three minutes later, Bethany came down the stairs wearing her tank top.

My eyebrows raised, but I didn’t say a word, even though I knew the tank top wasn’t the wisest choice for a cold, rainy day. She’d learn.

And she did. Three miles down the road, goosebumps lined her arms and she was shivering. “I-I should have worn the long sleeves.”


“B-but I asked you. You c-could have told me.”

I glanced back at her. “Yes, I could have. But I want you to learn to be wise. Next time, you’ll know what to do.”

She nodded and rubbed her hands over her arms.

As we drove the rest of the way (with the heat turned up), I recalled a verse about wisdom from Proverbs 8:11 (NIV): “For wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her,” and I realized that oftentimes I’m a lot like Bethany in my relationship with God.

I want answers, not wisdom. I want to know if should do A or B. Should I take this job or that one? Should I buy this house or that condo? Should I go here or there, do this or that?
But what if God was less interested in my choices than in my growth? Proverbs 4:7-8 (NIV) says, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.” For Bethany, wisdom cost some goosebumps. And to me, that was worth it. It was more important that she learn to look out the window and then choose her clothes wisely, than for her to be warm and comfortable on our trip to the store. So, what if, like any good parent, God wanted me to be able to look out the window, see the rain, and be able to choose wisely too.

As I considered my actions with Bethany that morning, I began to see that my own prayer life needed to change. I realized that it's better to seek wisdom than guidance. Not that seeking guidance is wrong, just like it was fine for Bethany to ask my opinion about her wardrobe choices. But wisdom, like precious gems, is even better. So, my prayers needed to shift away from "should I do A or B" and more toward "Help me to grow in wisdom so I will understand if I should do A or B."

My eyes caught Bethany’s in the rearview mirror. She was still shivering. I motioned toward the back of the car. “There’s a sweatshirt in the back for you.”

“Th-thanks. The tank top was a dumb idea.”

I grinned as Bethany grabbed the sweatshirt and slipped into it. Dumb, yes. But not disobedient. Her goosebumps didn’t mean that she’d done wrong, just that she needed to learn. And maybe it was the same for me. Just because I go through something hard doesn't mean that I didn't hear God when I decided to embark on that path. Perhaps at times He, too, just points to the rain and allows me to proceed into something unwise because he knows that in healing from that experience, He can make me wiser. Perhaps He plans to weave that experience into the fabric of who I am to make me more like Christ. Bad experiences, like Bethany’s goosebumps, can become real wisdom-builders. And God’s love is so great that He will not only transform the difficult experiences into something useful, but He will also grow me so I can be closer to Him and become the wise and mature person that He envisions me to be.

And that’s worth a little chill on a rainy day.