We know not what we should pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26).
Much that perplexes us in our Christian experience is but the answer to our prayers. We pray for patience, and our Father sends those who tax us to the utmost; for "tribulation worketh patience."
We pray for submission, and God sends sufferings; for "we learn obedience by the things we suffer."
We pray for unselfishness, and God gives us opportunities to sacrifice ourselves by thinking on the things of others, and by laying down our lives for the brethren.
We pray for strength and humility, and some messenger of Satan torments us until we lie in the dust crying for its removal.
We pray, "Lord, increase our faith," and money takes wings; or the children are alarmingly ill; or a servant comes who is careless, extravagant, untidy or slow, or some hitherto unknown trial calls for an increase of faith along a line where we have not needed to exercise much faith before.
We pray for the Lamb-life, and are given a portion of lowly service, or we are injured and must seek no redress; for "he was led as a lamb to the slaughter and… opened not his mouth."
We pray for gentleness, and there comes a perfect storm of temptation to harshness and irritability. We pray for quietness, and every nerve is strung to the utmost tension, so that looking to Him we may learn that when He giveth quietness, no one can make trouble.
We pray for love, and God sends peculiar suffering and puts us with apparently unlovely people, and lets them say things which rasp the nerves and lacerate the heart; for love suffereth long and is kind, love is not impolite, love is not provoked. LOVE BEARETH ALL THINGS, believeth, hopeth and endureth, love never faileth. We pray for likeness to Jesus, and the answer is, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?" "Are ye able?"
The way to peace and victory is to accept every circumstance, every trial, straight from the hand of a loving Father; and to live up in the heavenly places, above the clouds, in the very presence of the Throne, and to look down from the Glory upon our environment as lovingly and divinely appointed.
I prayed for strength, and then I lost awhile
All sense of nearness, human and divine;
The love I leaned on failed and pierced my heart,
The hands I clung to loosed themselves from mine;
But while I swayed, weak, trembling, and alone,
The everlasting arms upheld my own.
I prayed for light; the sun went down in clouds,
The moon was darkened by a misty doubt,
The stars of heaven were dimmed by earthly fears,
And all my little candle flames burned out;
But while I sat in shadow, wrapped in night,
The face of Christ made all the darkness bright.
I prayed for peace, and dreamed of restful ease,
A slumber drugged from pain, a hushed repose;
Above my head the skies were black with storm,
And fiercer grew the onslaught of my foes;
But while the battle raged, and wild winds blew,
I heard His voice and Perfect peace I knew.
I thank Thee, Lord, Thou wert too wise to heed
My feeble prayers, and answer as I sought,
Since these rich gifts Thy bounty has bestowed
Have brought me more than all I asked or thought;
Giver of good, so answer each request
With Thine own giving, better than my best.
--Annie Johnson Flint