Back in my college days, I was a part of a bible study with a few other students. About 4 years earlier, I had started learning about Jesus and what it meant to follow Him. One night, at this bible study, my college pastor gave us a challenge. He said, “Go home tonight and take some time to pray. Ask God specifically, ‘If there is anything standing in the way between us God, please take it away.’” You see, he knew that in order for each of us to grow deeper in our relationship with God, we needed to be willing to surrender anything that hindered our walk with Him.
I’ll admit that the idea of this type of prayer was a bit intimidating. My heart eagerly wanted to please the Lord and walk in His ways, but there were things in my life that I hadn’t yet surrendered to God–things that were keeping me from living the life God wanted for me. As I walked home that night, my pastor’s question kept rolling around in my head. I knew that I needed to take it to God.
That night, as I sat on my bed, I prayed. As I prayed those exact words my pastor had told us to pray, it was as if I reached out my hand to God with a willing heart and a closed fist. I was trying to take the first step. My heart was willing but I couldn’t quite give God what I was still holding onto with an open hand. It can be difficult to let go of the things in our lives that we have grown used to, even if they may be hindering us.
God took my small, imperfect, but willing effort and faithfully did the rest. He was able to pry open my grip (knowing I couldn’t do it myself) helping me to let go of those things. One of those things that I was having trouble letting go of at that time was a romantic relationship that wasn’t a godly one. Within a week of praying that prayer, my 3-year relationship ended—just like that.
God had been waiting for me to be willing to let Him take away what wasn’t best, so He could bless me with something so much better. Looking back, I can see how God wanted so much more for me. While it was a painful process at the time, it was so rewarding in the end.
I call these types of prayers, “expensive prayers” because they are the type of prayer you pray when you are willing to lay it all on the line and surrender the outcome to God. These types of prayers involve vulnerability and risk. We pray the words not knowing the outcome or how God will work. We can pray this prayer of surrender because we are confident of who He is. He is the One that we can trust completely to always have our best interest in mind and to give us His very best.
God was waiting for me to let go, so He could give me His best and the blessings I couldn’t have imagined yet. Right after the break-up, God led me to an amazing campus ministry retreat that I wasn’t planning to attend. He surrounded me with the most amazing people who showed me God’s love. I had not grown up in the church and I hadn’t yet known God’s unconditional love. I had relied on being in a romantic relationship to fill the need for love in my life. What I didn’t realize until that point was that I was holding on to counterfeit love instead of having the real thing.
We hold onto the things we think are best. We are afraid to let go of them for fear God will give us something we don’t want. But God is a good and loving Father who longs to give us His very best. He is waiting for us to open our hands and to let Him take the less-than-best and give us more than we can ask or imagine.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
God not only showed me that I had been settling for less than the best, He then replaced that imitation for a real, authentic love. At that retreat, I not only met friends who showed me the love of Christ, but in that very same group was a man who several years later would become my dear husband–a godly man who is more than I could have ever asked for. God filled me up with His joy and love. He has truly given me a deep relationship with Him that has made my life so rich and full. That “expensive” prayer that day may have been a simple prayer, but boy was it powerful! It was an important turning point in my life and relationship with God. Maybe a similar turning point is waiting for you too.
Is there something in your life that you are holding on to with a tight grip? God might be waiting for you to let go so He can give you His best. Maybe it is a relationship, a job, a false belief, a habit, unforgiveness or fear–whatever it is, don’t let it stand in the way of you growing closer to God and accepting His best for your life.
My challenge for you today is to pray the same prayer I was challenged to pray so many years ago. It’s okay if you are wanting to say the words but a little afraid of the outcome. Remember, the God you are praying to is loving, faithful, and desires to give you His very best.
My friend, don’t settle for less than His best in your life–seek God, His Kingdom and an unhindered, full relationship with Him. Simply start with this prayer: “If there is anything standing in the way between us God, please take it away” and see the amazing things God will do in your life!