Years ago at a wedding, a phrase from the love verses stood out as the pastor read them.
Love does not insist on its own way. (1 Corinthians 13:5 TLB)
That day I saw how many of the troubles in our marriage were because I was doing what that passage of Scripture said not to do.
Then some years later after becoming less demanding and controlling in our marriage, an author pointed out I still had a serious problem with demanding my own way.
In the commentary in the Everyday with Jesus Bible I read these words: “This sin is probably buried more deeply in our hearts than any other…The sin I refer to is demandingness.”
The author, Selwyn Hughes, went on to define the sin: “Demandingness is insisting that our interests be served irrespective of others.”
When I read this, I saw it was the same issue I’d been battling in my marriage, but I realized it was operating full force in my relationship with God. The reason I was upset so often in my spiritual life was that I often demanded things of God, and He refused to meet my demands.
When I prayed, deep down I was saying to God, “If You love me, do this for me.” And when He didn’t, I withdrew my love from Him for a time by backing away, neglecting my prayer life, becoming enmeshed in worldly pursuits.
Mr. Hughes went on to say: “Nothing convinces us more that God must answer our prayers in the way we think he should than when we are experiencing continued heartache. And the line between legitimate desiring and illegitimate demanding is a thin one which is easily crossed.”
Ever since I read those convicting words, I’ve been on the path of being set free from demanding my own way with God. Yet I can still get caught in it so easily, especially when my demands seems to line up with God’s will, like when I slip into demanding He intervene in unsaved relatives’ lives. How easy it is to be trapped into demanding when those loved ones’ actions are hurting me.
As I’m letting go of having a demanding spirit toward God, I’m learning to have a different attitude in prayer. The new theme of my prayers is:
This is my desire, Lord….However, whatever You think is best is what I really want.
The way Jesus said it is:
“My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from me—yet it must not be what I want but what you want.” Matthew 26:39 (J. B. Phillips Translation)
I pray for grace to continue to let go of demanding my own way. It is a key to a more intimate and fulfilling relationship with the Lord.
How about you? Do you find yourself going to God with prayer demands rather than prayer requests? Do you back off from God when your demands aren’t met? Are you willing to add these words to your prayers, “Not my will, but Yours be done” and mean them? Peace will come when you do.