It seems like every time I think that there is some bad habit that others have that I do not have, God immediately puts me in some situation that reminds me that I am as susceptible to that sort of behavior as anyone. The latest example came after reading a good post on Catholic Daily about honesty in prayer. I thought it was a great article but — whew! — not something I need to worry about since I am quite upfront in my conversations with God. I thought that was true since a couple years ago I always used to say these awkward “God, I don’t really believe in you and feel like I’m talking to myself…” kind of prayers, so I figured that I was nothing if not honest.
And back then I probably was pretty honest. I was such a spiritual beginner that I wouldn’t have known how to fake piety if I’d wanted to. But a situation came up recently that made be see that as I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve also been increasingly susceptible to the temptation of saying the “right” thing in prayer instead of what I’m really thinking and feeling.
One big thing that’s been going on recently that I didn’t mention here for various reasons is that I was approached by a publisher for a book deal. A senior editor at a good publishing company found one of my other websites (not related to this blog) and contacted me about setting up a meeting. When she flew down to my city we met up and really hit it off. We had a great meeting and she said that the powers-that-be had already seen and really liked the site, and it was basically a done deal if I was interested. I just had to put together a formal proposal for them to review, then we’d talk advances.
To be honest, I was thrilled. I’ve always wanted to write a book, and the possibility of getting paid an advance to do so made it all the more appealing (and doable). A lot of crazy events and amazing coincidences had long since led me to feel that this whole project was guided by God, so when I got this news, I immediately turned to prayer. I prayed something like this:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your guidance in getting this project to this point, and thank you for this wonderful blessing of an opportunity. If this is the right time and the right place and the right publisher for this message, and if it is your will that I write this book right now, then I am thrilled to oblige. Nevertheless, your will be done. If it is not your will that this deal come to fruition, I accept that, and ask only that you give me some sort of sign so I know that this is the case. Amen.
Ever since my wonderful blog readers showed me how to pray (in the excellent comments to this post), I am careful not to treat God only as a wish-granting genie when I ask him for things. I make my desires known but also express my ultimate desire to simply do God’s will. …But sometimes I, uhh, mean that last part more than others. For example, allow me to translate what I was really thinking when I was saying my lovely little pious prayer after meeting with the editor:
Lord, this is so sweet! A book! I want it to really help people. And I want the cover to rock. And I want a freaking huge advance. HUGE! And I want all five billion people on the earth to buy a copy and to unanimously agree that it’s the best thing they’ve ever read. I want a contract in my inbox tomorrow that gives me full rights and promises that they won’t make any edits. I’ll be looking out for that. Amen. P.S.: Did I mention I want a big advance?
So yesterday I found out that it’s very unlikely that this deal is going to go through. That should be no problem considering that I told God I was all about his will being done, just accepting whatever comes, right? Hah.
When I realized it probably wasn’t going to happen I think my biggest reaction was surprise, since I really felt like this deal was God-sent. But, looking back, I actually had quite a few non-subtle indicators (as I’d, ahem, requested in prayer) that this was not necessarily the right time and the right publisher for this message. I just chose to look right past them since I was caught up in the excitement of the moment, and it wasn’t what I wanted to hear at that time. Had I been more calm and deeply seeking God’s will, I think it would have been pretty obvious that this wasn’t meant to be.
So we’ll see what happens. It’s not 100% certain that this deal isn’t going to go through, but it’s looking less and less likely — and now, upon reflection, I’m not sure I want it to. Whatever happens with this publisher and with my project in general in the future, I’m certainly going to be more honest when I turn to God, if nothing else to save myself the surprise when I actually get when I didn’t even mean to ask for. 🙂
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