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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

Praying Our Questions

Nothing brings us to God more quickly than our questions. And we have them. They tumble out of hidden places in our hearts. They loom larger than life when something unexpected life crashes in to change what we wanted.

I’ve carried questions that I didn’t feel like God was answering for years. I still have a few and will probably have more. However, I have learned that the way I ask my questions will either take me closer to God or create a distance.

Don’t misunderstand here. We can ask God our questions. But how we ask them, either helps us or hurts more. What kind of questions bring transformation in the heart? Here’s my list:

1. Transformational questions ask how more than why.

Why questions grip us by the juggler, and we bleed our pain. We want answers to settle something, explain something, give a good enough reason to be okay with whatever brought the why question to begin with.

But they don’t. There will never be a good reason for anyone to get cancer, endure abuse, have their house blown away in a tornado. Instead, I’ve learned to pray how questions. How do I live through this pain, grief, or reversal? How do I respond to the person who frustrates me? How do I cope? How do I forgive?

God always answers how questions because it’s where life begins again.

2. Transformational questions lead to obedience.

Transformation is intrinsically connected to obedience. However, it’s easier to rationalize or explain away the need to obey something God asks of us. Obedience brings more transformation than anything else. Obedience focuses on what we can do and how we can change. When something changes in our will, motivation, or perspective; we become God’s tool to bring about more change. Sometimes in us; sometimes in another person.

3. Transformational questions become teach-me prayers.

I ask God to teach me what I don’t understand. I ask Him to teach me what I need to do and how I need to it. When I stubbornly hold on to what I want, I block growth. As soon as I become the student in God’s classroom, I know something is about to change. Not in my circumstances. In me. That’s the transformation.

There’s nothing simple here. Transformation is not a magic wand event. It is often grueling and humbling and takes time. Changes that bring heart transformation don’t start with my ideas and plans or even my dreams. They start and end with God.

But isn’t that what we really want? God’s way? God’s plan? God’s new? God’s change? God’s answer?

When I’m tempted to pray any other way about a hard place in my life, I sit down and rehearse how God, without my help or prayers, keeps this earth revolving on its invisible axis. Then, I become more honest about the pain or grief instead of demanding answers to my question.

Then, He holds me and in that embrace is a healing that the answer to my question could never give. I understand in a new way, that God, Himself, is always my first answer to any question. The fearful, challenging, or unwanted journey becomes a companioned one. It is my safe place in this broken world. I become stronger on the inside even when everything on the outside crumbles.

And peace comes.

So I pray . . .

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