"I've told God this is going to be the year," my friend Jenny announced recently over lunch. "I don't have to get married within the next year, I just want to meet the guy."
"Oh really," I said with what I hoped was a small amount of skepticism in my voice. Something about "telling God" anything made me a smidge nervous. But I wanted to hear my friend out before jumping in with my reservations.
"Yeah," she continued. "The Bible says we're supposed to pray boldly and with specific requests. And well, I'm tired of just sitting here waiting for something to happen, cautiously approaching relationships and God. So I've joined several online dating services, and I've started praying big prayers. We'll see what happens." She shrugged and flashed me an optimistic smile, as if to say I know this is a little crazy, but what have I got to lose?
I fought back the urge to challenge her stance. Instead, after a few moments' pause, I offered a supportive, "Well, you'll have to keep me posted on how that goes."
The challenge of bold prayers
Her words turned over and over in my head in the days following our lunch. Something about them—besides the ring of bossing God around—didn't sit right with me. It took me a while to realize what was bothering me: I was worried.
Worried for Jenny, who suffered a huge breakup last year. The protective friend in me didn't want her to get hurt again if God didn't answer her prayer in the way she hoped. And frankly, I was doubtful that he would.1