I can’t quite remember when or where, but at some point in the past I found myself staring my typical prayers in the face.

  • “God, please show me which path to take.”
  • “God, please open this door for me.”
  • “God, please give me peace about the next steps.”

Wait a second, I thought to myself. These prayers all seem to have a common theme – a request for an easier life. Is that right though?

Life isn’t easy. It reminded me of a conversation when a friend admitted to me, “I finally got to the point where I realized God wasn’t picking on me – life is just hard!”

It’s almost as if God was letting me know (in my words, not His), “All my easy jobs are taken. I need people who can handle the tough ones!”

Here’s an example I’m familiar with (you may be too): let’s say your job has been an ongoing struggle. You’re working to become a mature young professional, so you try to solve the problem, talk to your supervisor and look for alternatives. When those efforts fail to change the situation, you know it’s time to look for another job. After applying to several new roles, you’re invited to a series of interviews with three outside organizations. From what you can tell, they all seem to be an improvement from where you are now.

How do you pray about the situation?

Do you hope you get one offer from the one you want most and the others decline? That makes the decision easy.

But what if you receive offers from all three? This allows you more options (which assures you more leverage and likely a better opportunity), but you’ll need to think a lot harder, and possibly wrestle with making the “wrong” choice. That’s a lot tougher!

Or what if you receive one offer for the lesser opportunity while the better one gets delayed. Now you’re really stressed out! Should you take what is on the table or hold out for a better opportunity?

Isn’t that how life works most of the time though?

In our Leadership Impact Initiative, one of the verses we discussed was James 3:15, “Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”” In other words, my job is to make a plan and take action WHILE acknowledging God in the process and God’s job is to direct me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still pray for God’s favor, blessing, direction and very-specific requests and outcomes – but I’ve begun to realize that just like my football coaches needed to toughen me up a little before they gave me playing time or the military needed to train me before they sent me to Iraq, God has a purpose for me to fulfill that includes a development process. That process may not be easy, but it’s for my benefit (and His glory).

So I’ve tried to change how I pray. These are some of the ways:

  • Wisdom and discernment (vs. easy decisions)
  • Trust in God’s purpose and process for me (vs. removing all risks)
  • Ability to CHOOSE to improve my attitude (vs. eliminate all painful circumstances)
  • Discipline to cast my cares on God (vs. addressing all my anxieties)
  • Patience (vs. getting the answers now)
  • Strength for what lies ahead (vs. an easier life)

Do you unconsciously pray for an easy life like I did (and still sometimes do)? Or are you inching closer to the edge of a life that requires a deeper faith?