Prayer isn't something you should take lightly.
I know you hear that every third sermon of your life, but it's true. And it's something we really take for granted. This could be a result of our confidence of coming into the Lord's presence without fear, knowing that Christ is our mediator. We are so focused on the fact that we can, that freedom goes to our heads sometimes.
Please understand that I'm not saying we should pray less often, or with any less freedom than before. But we should at least be thinking about what we are praying for.
About a year ago, I prayed for God to teach me to love. It sounded good to me, noble, romantic. He took that and did the exact opposite of what I was thinking at the time. He broke me, and instead of grooming my perceived existing ability to love, showed me all the ways I was lacking when it came to living for others, not myself.
Only by bringing me to one of the lowest places in my life could He begin to teach me what I needed to know. I would not change what He's done in my life since then. I'm also fairly certain that had I known then what I would go through emotionally, I would have prayed differently.
At the time, I didn't have a proper understanding of what I desired meant. Now, looking back, I know that the only way God could have taught me what it really means to love without reservation was to show me just how focused on myself I was. Due to that self-centeredness, I wouldn't have asked what I did. I would have asked to be spared.
Now I realize life is not about me. It's not about making things easier for myself, but about bearing the burdens of others. I always thought that self-sacrificial people just had a lower self-esteem, but I find it's not the case. Because of where I've been, because of what I've learned about myself, I know I have the privilege of living for others - living for Christ.
I pray differently now. I used to only pray in what I perceived as my own favor. I prayed for that which would make me happy, which would end certain longings and fulfill certain desires.
Now I pray for God's will to be done in my life. But I also grasp better what that means.
So far, it's meant wonderful people around me, acceptance into the university I've been dreaming of going to since I was ten, and endless amounts of love and support.
But it's also meant a life-changing diagnosis. It's meant constant disappointment in my relationships with guys. It's meant betrayal by people I thought had my back.
So when you pray, ask yourself, "Am I really ready for the answer to this?"
And then pray it anyway. Hold nothing back from God, and He will hold nothing back from you. That may not look like your image of perfection, but it looks like His. There is beauty in the broken bits.
Even a "no" from Him is a beautiful one.