When my two oldest children were in the throngs of dating, they managed to simultaneously find significant others who were terrible fits, not only for themselves but also for the two they were dating. Everyone could see it but them. Even their then 12-year-old brother saw right through the relationships and knew they were toxic.
With Laura being my only daughter, I thought I could tell her exactly how I felt about her boyfriend and she would understand and break up with him. After all, wasn’t she a lot like me? My words, instead of helping, continually slamming into a brick wall, I think actually fueled this relationship, making it last over a year.
With John, for some reason I reacted differently. Staying quiet toward him, I prayed fervently all the time. Often confronted by his two siblings with, “Mom! Do something. You’ve got to speak up,” my response was that I was; I was praying. Now, this behavior was not the norm for me, because as I have shared in the past—and to borrow a phrase from a friend—“I’m a recovering Pharisee, a rescuer, and someone who must fix up other’s lives, because if I don’t do it, who will?” But I believe God was showing me that is not my job and He can handle lives far better than I can. It took some time, but both couples eventually did part ways. I had not spoken to John about his relationship until the breakup happened. Warning him that his ex-girlfriend would try to ask him back, my words fell upon an open heart.
Two different approaches. Two very different responses. Laura later told me, she knew her boyfriend wasn’t right for her after one week of dating him. Perhaps if I had prayed more and spoken less, she would’ve listened to that pull sooner.
If only we went to the Lord in supplication more often. Supplication appears sixty times in the Bible, and it’s a word I’ve often glanced over, giving little thought.
Supplication means: to ask humbly and earnestly of God.
Jesus gave us the perfect example of supplication in the Garden of Gethsemane right before he was crucified.
“Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. There he told them, ‘Pray that you will not give in to temptation.’ He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.” -Luke 22: 39-44 (NLT)
Jesus prayed with such earnestness (supplication) that He began to sweat blood. But He also prayed humbly (supplication) asking the Lord to take the upcoming crucifixion away from him, while still asking His Father’s will be done. And as we all know, God did not grant Jesus’ request of removing the crucifixion cup.
That is such an extraordinary lesson. We are told to pray humbly and earnestly; however, that does not mean the request will be granted. It does mean when we pray, the Lord is with us and we are strengthened to walk forward with Him. The more we pray, the closer our relationship with God.
I am so grateful the Lord answered my prayer for John by ending that particular relationship. He now has a tender-hearted wife, who all my family adores. I am also grateful the Lord did the same for Laura, later bringing her a wonderful husband, despite my lack of praying. Had the toxic relationships not ended, God would still be sovereign and good.
What is pressing on your heart this Christmas season? Take it before the Lord, earnestly and humbly. He may not remove the cup, but God certainly will give you strength to walk through it with Him.
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