Yesterday, I watched the final nine holes of the Masters golf tournament in 3D in my living room with three of my Christian friends.
As Christian Bubba Watson moved up the leader board I rhetorically asked my friends whether we should pray for Watson to win. It was a serious theological question, though I suppose it’s hard to take someone serious theologically when they are wearing 3D glasses.
As a college basketball player, I still remember praying that we would win games and win the conference. We were picked before the season to finish no better than fourth in the conference. On top of that, we lost our best player when our coach (rightly) kicked him off the team for pilfering from the equipment room.
Remarkably, we ended up winning the conference. At the time, I believed my prayers had something to do with it. Now I’m not so sure.
When I became a trial lawyer, I began praying I would win my trials. After trying cases for about ten years, I stopped praying for outcomes. I stopped praying that way because I realized that the multitude of permutations in any given situation were far too complex for me to know what the greatest good was.That was a task for which God alone was uniquely qualified.
And maybe the greatest good is not even the standard. Maybe the Lord was doing something in one person’s life that was more important for the future of the kingdom of God than what was good for the greatest number of people.
There was also the issue of common ground. Because we all share a common reality, if I won the trial, that meant the other side lost, and maybe it wasn’t best that they lost, even if they were in the wrong. I might be able to discern what I thought justice was in the thin veneer of the natural, but only God truly knows people’s hearts.
So, I stopped praying to win. Instead I began praying the Lord would help me perform excellently, that I would do my very best and honor Him by my performance. I began leaving outcomes to Him. I think I became a more mature Christian; I know I became a better trial lawyer. GS