God is greater than our hearts. Sometimes this means answering our prayers by overriding our initial, self-willed requests and then conforming our will to His.
Over the past two years especially, the Lord has shown Himself to be my All-in-All in amazing ways through (among a million other ways) specific answered prayers. So, when the idea of having a “week of answered prayers” was introduced, I began to think of which story of God’s provision would be the most compelling, interesting, or encouraging.
But the more I prayed over what God would have me to say, the more the Holy Spirit pricked my heart that perhaps it isn’t so much in the flashy displays of His power that I get to know Him the most intimately, but in the stillness on my knees and the quiet times in His Word that my prayers are truly being answered. I knew I needed to wait on His timing and peace about sharing.
Two weeks ago, I was talking with my Father in my little closet He has given me, and a few friends of mine began to lay heavy on my heart. Initially, I kept praying for MY will for them, what I want for them, and what I see in them. But as I kept praying, the Lord brought to mind surrender of my own will and how the Lord Jesus is the perfect example. He was transforming my initial prayer for what I wanted in them into a prayer for brokenness and new intimacy for not only them, but for myself.
He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” | Matthew 26:39
After that, I began to search out the Scriptures and to see that the real heart surgery needed to start with me. Now, it wasn’t about how I “felt” towards my friends or any emotions tied to our relationships, it was about surrendering my will to the Lord’s and trusting and pleading for His very best in their lives. As I kept praying, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart that I wasn’t loving them as I ought. He was showing me that the more needful request was for my heart to be made like His and reminded me of this:
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. | 1 John 3:16-21
In this instance, the Lord’s answer to my initial prayer for these friends of mine was actually a time of intense examination, confession, and repentance. As a result, He gave me a renewed love for them because He is greater than my own heart, and a confidence in seeking Him as my conscience was now clear before Him. Knowing it was time to come to a close in prayer, I asked the Lord to draw these friends and me closer to Himself. Then, as I exited my closet, I checked my phone to see a message simply saying “I love you so much and just wanted you to know that” with about a million heart emojis (I’m a big fan of heart emojis).
This was from one of the young friends on my heart in particular and a precious answer to prayer in that it reminded me of God’s mercy and love for me. Because of the Lord bringing me through that time of examination, He gave me a sweeter and deeper love for Him and my friends. It was a reminder that I didn’t need to wallow in guilt or shame over what was now already confessed sin, and that regardless of how I “feel,” God is still God and working in the lives of His saints.
And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. | 1 John 3:22
While this may not be a typical answer to prayer, I hope it encourages you to keep seeking the Lord. His answer may be to help you examine your heart and bend your will to His, like only He can.