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Blessed Misery

“Lord make him miserable.” That was the prayer that got me in trouble.

We were in a small group, interceding for a backslidden brother, and I asked goya-repentanceGod to rain on his parade, wither his crops, put a monkey wrench in his plans, badger him, bedevil him, and burst every bubble. You know, make him miserable. No. I wasn’t being vindictive or malicious, nor did I wish (or plot) any harm upon the man. But like the Prodigal Son, I believed that a weekend eating pig slop might actually accomplish some good.

Well, no sooner had we said “Amen” than I was accosted by someone in the circle.  “How could you pray that? It’s the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, not misery. That prayer was totally inappropriate.”

Sigh.

My Dad lived the last 10 years of his life as a recovered alcoholic. He led several AA groups and was devoted to helping others find sobriety. On occasion, someone would request that he call a friend or relative of theirs and invite them to the group. His response was always the same: “We don’t call anyone. When they’re ready, they’ll call us.”

Sometimes bottoming out is the first step to reaching up.

Okay, so maybe I should chill out. You know, pray with a little more compassion. But alas, misery is such a great motivator.

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Dayle June 3, 2009, 12:53 PM

    Mike,

    I understand your reasoning, but I don't think you should ever do that. We should let God decide the means. Just because bottoming out is a great motivator, it doesn't mean that's what God wants for everyone. Let Him decide.

    We should pray for healing and let God decide to use a scalpel or a wave of the hand.

  • Re:run June 3, 2009, 1:16 PM

    Your dad was right. Misery saved my life. If we pray for it in the right spirit its ok.

  • Jessica Thomas June 3, 2009, 1:23 PM

    I hear ya. Unfortunately I think a lot of people to require a bottoming out. At least, that seems to be the case in this uber self-sufficient postmodern America…

  • Dennis Gray June 3, 2009, 3:12 PM

    I ran into the same problem a few years back. I completely agree with your point, but it does wrankle the sensibilities of a lot of people. I have since found a more low impact way to pray to the same ends. I pray that God will take him or her through "whatever is needed to bring them to the point of repentance no matter how uncomforatable or unpleasant it may be." I find that while some people might still pick up on my drift, it's harder for them to argue with it as it does leave the entire concept in God's hands.

  • Nicole June 3, 2009, 4:22 PM

    Well, Mike, when you pray from your heart, right or wrong, God will intervene. Maybe it'll be with you re-routing your prayers, but maybe you are praying God's will in the situation. I did not hear malice in your prayers but genuine concern. Anyway, in the Corinthian church Paul told the parishoners to turn a guy loose and let Satan have him for awhile, knowing that's what it would take for this particular dude to get the message of his real need. God's love does bring us to repentance. It was demonstrated at and on The Cross. So, hey, Mission Accomplished. But it's getting to the cross that requires a tougher journey for some than others. Like a big mouthful of pig slop.

  • RJay June 3, 2009, 6:42 PM

    There is also a difference between corporate prayer and private prayer. I might pray in private "please help me deal gracefully with Mike when he is being an aragant jerk." But would probabley want to chill on that when praying with Mike 🙂

  • Ame June 4, 2009, 4:10 AM

    and that bottom for some seems sooo low it's never gonna happen … amazing how low some people must go to reach bottom.

    i often tell people that no one really chooses to go through the hell of recovery … it just that when the hell of living life, as it is, is SO horrible that the hell of recovery is a step up that people choose the easier of the two.

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