This article is part of the How to Pray series.
When the Future Is Unknown
It’s natural; we all do it. We all wonder about what is to come. Some of us think about the future and hope our dreams will come true. Some of us dread the future and pray that we will not have to face the things that we fear. For some of us, the future seems foggy and unknowable. For all of us, it’s hard to look into the future and be secure, because the future is simply out of our hands. With all of our consideration, meditation, and planning for what is to come, things never turn out the way we envisioned. There are always unexpected turns in the road. There are potholes and ditches we did not anticipate. There are mountains and valleys we just did not foresee. We find ourselves walking through moments of darkness when we thought we’d be living and walking in the light. It doesn’t take long for us to begin to acquiesce to the fact that we don’t ever quite know what is around the next corner.
But we don’t have to live plagued by the anxiety of the unknown. We don’t have to go to sleep wondering what the next day will bring or wake up working our way through all the “what-ifs” we can think of. We don’t have to seek some means to figure out what we will never be able to figure out. No, we can have rest when we are confused. We can experience peace in the face of the unknown. We can feel an inner well-being while living in the middle of mystery. Why?
Because our peace of heart does not rest on how much we know, how much we have figured out, or how accurately we have been able to predict the future. No, our rest is in the person who holds our individual futures in his wise and gracious hands. We have peace because we know that he will complete the good things that he in grace has initiated in our lives. He is faithful, so he never leaves the work of his hands. He is gracious, so he gives us what we need, not what we deserve. He is wise, so what he does is always best. He is sovereign, so he rules all the situations and locations where we live. He is powerful, so he can do what he pleases, when he pleases.
Paul says it well in Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Are you experiencing anxiety because you’ve forgotten who you are and what you’ve been given? Are you experiencing the fear that results from trying to know what you’ll never know? He knows, he cares, and he will complete the job he’s begun.
Pray this Dangerous Prayer
What is the most needed, yet the most dangerous, prayer you could ever pray? It is the one prayer that takes you beyond the small-picture hopes and dreams that kidnap so much of your prayer. It is all right to pray about your job, marriage, family, finances, house, children, retirement, vacation, investments, church, health, government, and the weather, but it is not enough. This kind of prayer follows the “right now-me” model of prayer. It is about life right here, right now and about what I have come to think that I need right here, right now. Yes, God cares about your present life. He gives you grace for this moment. Right now he is with, for, and in you. But he calls you to view yourself and your life from a perspective that goes far beyond this moment and extends far beyond your ability to diagnose what you truly need.
The one prayer Christ calls us all to pray requires us to let go of our momentary agendas and take up his eternal one.
The one prayer Christ calls us all to pray requires us to let go of our momentary agendas and take up his eternal one. It requires us to surrender our distorted sense of need to his perfect sense of what is best. It is the “forever-you” model of prayer. It requires you to take the long view—to let go of your hold on your life and surrender to the kingship of another. It is captured by a few dangerous words. Why “dangerous”? Because they have the power to turn your life upside down, to make you a very different you than you have been. Here is what we have been called to pray: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, right here, right now in my life as it is in heaven” (see Matt. 6:10). It is only in the context of the surrender of these words that Jesus welcomes you to pray about your right-here, right-now needs.
Here is grace. I don’t have to work to be a king and I don’t have to carry the burdens of a king because I have been gifted with a King. In his kingdom, I am blessed with every good thing I will ever need, and in my welcome to his kingdom, I am included in something that will never, ever end. So pray that prayer because its dangerous grace is really what you (and I) need. Don’t hesitate. Do it now. Why live for what will pass away? Why give your searching heart to what can never satisfy? Why tell yourself that you know what you need, when the One who created you knows better and has promised to deliver?
This article is adapted from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.
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