I have prayed far more often for my circumstances to change than for myself to be changed. On my best days of those prayers, I ended with a concession: “And if it is not your will, let me be conformed to your will.” This prayer has been, is and will be answered in the affirmative; I have seen evidence in my own life of this change when I look back over the last few years.
God is kind in answering that prayer, as it is mostly a fallback of my unbelief: “If you’re not going to do what I want you to do, make me okay with whatever else it is you do.” If the emphasis is on the latter end of that prayer, it is a far more humble prayer than I often manage: I tend to weight the former half.
As I’ve been reading through Scripture recently, the very routine requests made of God (in the Old Testament) and Jesus (in the New) have been popping out at me. This should be unsurprising: God tells us to ask him whatever we want. Jesus goes so far as to say in John 15 that if we abide in Him, we can ask whatever we want and He will do it.
Since I’ve been meditating on John 15 for a few weeks, I’ve started to pray for small things: “help me remember to pray for this person,” “help me to stay pure,” and “help keep me motivated to read my Bible.” To my shame, I’m astonished that these prayers have been answered in overwhelming amount. I should be far more thankful than I am, and far less surprised.
The connection that I’ve had with God over the past few days has been comforting and life-giving in a uniquely unexpected way: not a mountaintop experience, but a steady walk. This is the power of “praying unceasingly”: if you pray to be strengthened in prayer, you will be — and so much follows after that.