There are days when things go wrong and we don’t understand why. Not int the moment anyway. We do all the right things, say all the right prayers, have the right motive and still life doesn’t go our preferred way.
One such day occurred in our family not too long ago. We had been having one of those amazing weekends full of fun and ease. We were winding down one Saturday night with a bonfire and some family over. The night was nearing its end and a light rain had started. The kids all decided to go inside to play. Shortly thereafter, my middle child came out to the fire in a strange mood. She curled up in my lap and asked me to go inside with her. I brushed off the suggestion and told her I wanted to be near the fire for a little longer. When she asked again, my mommy instincts kicked in and I agreed to go back to the house with her. Once inside she again whispered in my ear that she needed to tell me something in private. I followed her to a place where the other four kids couldn’t hear and she began to break down as she confessed that she had killed me son’s fish.
Now this fish had only been with our family for about a month and it was a fish he had earned through good behavior during a time of big transition so he (and I—if honesty matters) had some emotional ties to this fish. I wish I could say my reaction was as near to God’s heart as a human could possibly be, but truth would tell a different story. I rushed to the aid of the (more) broken hearted as my daughter was forced to break the news to my son. His sobs were not my favorite part of parenting for sure. I had a strong conflict in my heart as I watched her melt into a puddle of sorrow, yet I was angry at her for causing my son to hurt so bad. I at least realized my conflict of interest and I asked her to excuse herself to her room while I comforted her brother (and calmed myself).
This is the moment where I began to pray. I asked for wisdom to handle this tough situation. I walked over and checked the status of the fish more closely and saw that in fact, his gills were still moving—albeit ever so slowly. So there was this sliver of a chance that he would pull through. At this point we (my husband and I) divided and conquered bed time and praying with each child. Before I went upstairs to address each child, I laid hands on the tank and prayed. I asked God to heal Ben (the Beta) and I said that I knew that He was capable of miracles and this fish living would be one, no doubt. I also said that I trusted Him regardless of the outcome.
I spent time with the middle daughter and we talked through what she did (took the fish out of water to play with it) and why that is not a good choice for fish. Then she prayed and asked God to forgive her and bring her peace. He did. She was remorseful and He came to her aid. I sang over her until she fell asleep and then I went to my son. We talked about his feelings and I told him how sorry I was that he had to go through this. We prayed together and asked God to heal his hurting heart. Then we spoke about having to move to a place of forgiveness. I told him we could talk more about that tomorrow but that it is a choice not a feeling.
By morning the fish had passed and been taken care of. God decided not to heal Ben. But His goodness is not limited to answering our requests. We were handed a very tangible opportunity to walk out forgiveness and repentance in our home, and we seized it. That morning, our daughter looked our son in the eye and apologized and he forgave her. It was a moment of growth for both of them, and something struck me about the whole thing. The night before when our daughter prayed for forgiveness, her body shifted to a place of peace soon after. It seemed that God was showing me how harboring the burden of our mistakes is spiritually (and even physically) taxing. He wants us to take time to repent in our prayer time not simply because He is a forgiving God, but because it allows us to unload the heavy burden of our actions. If we are truly sorry, we can put our mistakes at the feet of the Father. This action frees up space in our hearts for His peace. He can bring a redemptive spirit of comfort over our hearts. Repentance puts our mistakes in His realm. If we keep them in ours, the Enemy uses them as a breeding ground for guilt, shame, and reasons to disqualify us from moving forward in the Kingdom.
Let us not gloss over the part of prayer time that confesses our shortcomings and our sins to God. Of course we are saved and these confessions are not the cause of that. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. We are freed from daily strongholds by confessing our sins to God and others. We are casting our troubles out of the Enemy camp and into the Heavenly realm where God takes our ashes and makes them into something beautiful. Again, this part of prayer is really for our good, not God’s benefit.