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When does praying for the “right” thing the wrong thing to do?

When does praying for the “right” thing the wrong thing to do?

I’ve been fortunate to meet a few people who have lived almost in constant communication with God. Unfortunately, I haven’t mastered that yet. I tend to be more hit and miss in my relationships, whether be with God, family, friends or associates. It is like I don’t have time to maintain them all at peak efficiency so I reluctantly have these swings from good to bad. I am grateful that whether it be God, family or friends, they are pretty forgiving. I know it isn’t right, but unfortunately, the more forgiving someone is, the easier it is to neglect the relationship. Thus, I have at times put more effort in my relationships with customers or friends than I have investing time with my family and God.

I don’t know for sure what the key is to building a good relationship, but I would put several traits or characteristics toward the top of the list – communication, trust, commitment, loyalty, sacrifice and courtesy. Truth be known, guilt plays a role in my relationships as well, at least when I look at my relationship with God, my wife or my parents, for example. 

The relationship balance sheet always seems to be pretty one-sided. They have done a lot more for me, have made me a better person, a happier person and have seemingly given far more to me than I have given in return. I’m grateful, but also a little embarrassed because I haven’t earned what they have given to me. In fact, it has been the one-sided nature of those relationships that have driven me to stop asking things of them. Instead, I would much prefer to even up those balance sheets, but that just doesn’t seem possible; they just keep giving more than I could ever deserve. 

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I hope the above paragraph makes sense, because it explains one of the struggles I have with prayer. It is easy to pray for strength and guidance, but when it comes to things like praying for rain or some other sort of blessing, I just can’t fight the feeling that I shouldn’t be so selfish. This week, I’ve been at a major competition with my kids. Like any dad, I am proud of them, I know the work they have put in, how much time they have put toward achieving a goal and I would give or do about anything to have them do their very best. I also realize that there are hundreds of parents just like me. I don’t pray for them to win, but I find myself praying fairly fervently that they do their very best. 

We survived the drought years. Some of life’s greatest lessons come from heart-breaking defeats, and few people have received more blessings than I have. I think I’m just now realizing that praying for rain or strength is not necessarily wrong as long as I try to express my gratitude as well. I will probably never be able to repay what others have given me, but maybe I can do a better job of expressing that gratitude. I focused this morning on spending a little more time praying in gratitude, giving my wife a hug and telling her how thankful I am for what she has done for our family, and then I called my parents just to tell them I love them. I not only felt better about praying for rain and for my kids doing well, but more importantly, I realized just how little those things really matter. 

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com and the Penton Agriculture Group.

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