Preventive Prayer

Some of our troubles as women come when we are blind-sided by the unexpected, particularly when we have a very clear set of expectations in our heads.

For example, let’s say Mom has gone off for the day, and before leaving she gave everyone very clear instructions about what was supposed to happen while she was out. When she is on her way home,  she is envisoning that all has been done according to her specifications (the table set and the crockpot ready with dinner). But, let’s just imagine that there has been a ball drop. Instead of walking through the door into her dream world, she is greeted with a disaster: the house is bombed, the kids didn’t get their chores done, the crockpot was accidentally unplugged, and the dog got in the house with muddy paws. To put it mildly, it is not Mom’s shining moment. If she is not careful, she will react before she has even heard the kids’ side of the story.

Now, what if on the way home she had been praying preventively, something like this: Lord, whatever shape I find things in, let me be gracious and act wisely. Prepare my heart. Let me handle whatever I find like a Christian woman. Praying this way helps her walk into the house with her guard up, and this guarantees that things will go much better. If she found things in order, she could be pleasantly surprised; if things were a wreck, she could act with wisdom and not with rashness or annoyance. Because  if the kids have been misbehaving and need correction, a mother who is annoyed is in no shape to give any correction. She needs some herself.

Many things can be dealt with if we would pray preventively. Jesus taught us to pray that we would not be lead into temptation. That is preventive prayer. We can pray this way when we drive (that we will be alert and careful), when we go to a social gathering (that we will guard our tongue), when our birthday or anniversary is coming (that we won’t have any expectations for others). And women can certainly pray ahead for monthly hormonal upheaval. We know it’s coming, so rather than expecting everyone else to get their heads down, maybe we should do some preventive prayer for ourselves. There are hundreds of applications of this.

As well as praying this way, we ought to consider dealing with our own personal expectations for everyone else. If you fix a nice dinner for your husband and you have unspoken expectations about how he will receive it, it is just like setting a booby trap for him to walk right into. Your expectations are a set up for you to have hurt feelings. It would be far better to pray ahead of time: Lord, let this dinner be a blessing to my husband, and let me not put any expectations on him. He may be thinking it’s a great meal, but forget to say so because of the many distractions still on his mind from the day. So give him the benefit of a doubt, and don’t set him up for trouble.

Many temptations can be avoided if we pray this way. It’s like keeping a sharp lookout from a good vantage point. We may not know what is coming, but we can pray to the God who does know, and ask Him to prepare us for whatever that is.

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24 thoughts on “Preventive Prayer

  1. I appreciate this very much. Just this morning this happened to me, and I did not respond correctly, much to my disgust. Thank you for not only teaching me to pray like this, but also for reminding me that I am the one who needs correcting in moments of frustration.

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I guess I never really come at everyday situations having pre-prayed for the wisdom to get through a situation. This was a wonderful few paragraphs for me.

  3. Boy I sure could have used that council a few Saturdays ago! Can’t wait to try this out. Daily opportunity awaits!

    Even if my husband and I don’t totally have the judicious demeanor thing down yet, at least so far our children get LOTS of opportunity to see what it looks like to have to humble yourself and apologize. 🙂

  4. I took this counsel on vacation with me, and observed a couple corollaries: 1) When I ran into challenging situations, just remembering, “I already prayed about this,” kept me calm and collected on more than one occasion. 2) I found it much easier to implement this type of prayer and to reap its benefits in extraordinary circumstances (traveling, preparing for a special occasion) than in ordinary ones (just hanging out at mom’s house). Isn’t that the way of things — the little stuff trips us up so much more often!

  5. Yes, ditto on the “Ouch!” and the “Oh!” How very refreshing, Nancy. I imagine that if I could conquer annoyance my entire family would rise up and call me blessed! Sometimes it seems an impossible task, but I know the promises of God are never trite or silly.

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