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“What Do You Want?” Is Not a Trick Question

My friend Niro texted me a few months ago and told me I needed to pray for 40 days in anticipation of releasing To Be Made Well. And when Niro tells me I need to pray about something in a particular way, I tend to listen.

So I wrote down all the things I could possibly dream about happening with this book. That influential people would share it on social media. That Krista Tippett would interview me for On Being. That it would be translated into a dozen languages. That 100 small groups would use it as a way to discuss and receive healing. That tens of thousands of people would read it. That it would be a catalyst for personal and social healing. 

But then I got scared about those prayers. I got scared that they were selfish. Scared that they were telling God what to do. And scared that they wouldn’t come true. 

In the gospels, Jesus comes to people over and over and asks them some version of, “What do you want me to do for you?” 

He isn’t looking for “the right answer.” He isn’t testing them. He isn’t going to deny them his blessing depending upon what they say. He also isn’t going to guarantee their desire like a magic genie. But Jesus is asking them to get in touch with their desire and speak it out loud.

What do you want? 

It’s not a trick question.

It’s an honest question that Jesus asks all of us. 

I’ve been answering it, with some measure of fear and trembling, for 40 days now. And in the midst of praying for what I actually want, I’ve been exhilarated and disappointed. I’ve been filled with gratitude and overwhelmed with doubt. I’ve seen God’s presence and felt God’s absence. And I’ve become far more confident that God is at work. In the yes and the no. In the mystery and the clarity. And in what always amounts to more love.

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