When you were a kid, how did you handle not getting your way?
Between my sisters and I, my parents dealt with their fair share of tears, anger, and hair-pulling when one of us didn’t get what we wanted. I find that as an adult, my response to hearing “No” from God can be very similar (minus the hair-pulling … usually).
Learning to submit to God means learning to trust and follow him even when you don’t think his way makes sense. Think about it: have you ever prayed for something and it didn’t happen? How did you respond?
When we don’t know how or don’t want to submit to God, we usually respond in one of the following ways:
- We stop praying for specific things or stop praying completely.
- We doubt that God really exists or if prayer works.
- We feel like God doesn’t really care about what we need.
If you relate to any of these, try these three tips and begin learning to submit to God in prayer.
Be real with God
Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”Matthew 26:39 (MSG)
One thing that always surprises me about the cross is that Jesus didn’t want to go. I can relate to him – God called him to do something hard and he didn’t want to do it; he knew it would be painful and difficult. What I admire is how he handled it – He didn’t rebel or soldier on pretending to be fine. He told God that he disagreed, and he kept praying until his attitude changed.
In which areas of your life do you disagree with what God wants you to do? Maybe it’s your schedule, your future, how you treat your spouse, or how you believe you should practice your faith. How do you handle these disagreements?
Prayer has the power to change our hearts. Submitting to God in any area requires our own personal, honest conversations with him where we admit our feelings and keep talking until we agree.
Decide to take some time of your own at a peaceful place, like the beach or a park, and wrestle with God (Genesis 32:24-28) about the specific area you need to submit to him. Don’t be afraid to tell him how you really feel, and don’t give up until you decide to trust him.
Trust that God’s plan is always better than yours
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.Hebrews 12:10-11
To submit to God, we have to fight to find the ways that his plan is better and ultimately for our good.
As a straight-A student all through school, one of my greatest dreams was to be accepted to a prestigious East Coast university. But I’ll never forget the day I got the letter informing me I had been rejected from my dream school. I felt my world falling apart; I had worked so hard, it just didn’t seem to make sense.
But after a couple years, I ended up being accepted to UC Berkeley as a transfer student. It turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not only did I love the school and the atmosphere, it was also there that I got connected with the spiritual family and mentorship I needed to discover a greater destiny for my life.
God had to say no to my plan, because he had something better. As the scripture teaches, God’s discipline may be painful but it’s always good in the end.
Why do you think God might be saying “no” to what you want right now? Who do you think he wants you to become?
Look for purpose in your pain
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Ultimately, any challenge or struggle in our lives gives us purpose – we can give others the hope and comfort they need to make it through. I’ve found that any struggle in my life, big or small, becomes so much more meaningful when I see how I can help someone else.
Pray to meet someone else who is going through the same battle you are. God will answer that prayer, and you will find new inspiration in having the ability to forever change someone’s life.