My first post in this series discuessed a willingness to look at contentment in a new light. We must realize (in all circumtances of life) that being content does not mean being happy with our circumstances. Being content requires peace and satisfaction (dictionary definition is a state of satisfaction) despite our circumstances. If we silently pretent to always be okay and tell people what they want to hear (IE, never admit struggle for fear they will judge us for "not trusting"), then we may appear okay, but will grow feelings of dissapointment, hurt, regret and bitterness. Instead we should honestly tell the Lord we are struggling (and even others, for our testimonies will bring Him more glory if people know we choose to follow despite our circumstances and struggles). Anyway, small recap but you can read that post here.
I think that the next step towards contentment (after admitting our circumstances are rough) is prayer.
Phil 4: 11 tells us to be content in all circumstances which is quite a hard demand. Luckilly, Paul gives some practical advice in an earlier verse, Phil 4:6, when he tells them: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
(That verse is packed with two good tips, so any guesses what my next post will be on??)
I tend to be a very anxious person. Anxiety seems to be the opposite of contentment. One way I combat that is to follow this verse's command. When I start to worry too much about anything, I take my worry-filled monologues and turn them into prayers, laying my fears, needs, shortcomings and REQUESTS at the feet of the Savior.
Pray, pray constantly, pray without ceasing. This tends to be tough in very reformed staunch presbyterian circles. We think that if we choose to believe God is soverign (as we know He is), then we must silently take our painful circumstances and pray we are wise enough to accept and learn from them. We believe prayer is merely something we do because God commands us to do it. Instead we should pray with believe that God can change our circumstances, that He can use our prayers to accomplish His will. Our prayers don't change circumstances, He does, but He choses to do so in various ways, prayer included..
I don't pretend to know how God's forknowledge and plans on our lives work together with our prayers, but I know prayers are used to change our heart and our circumstances. I think that many singles (and many people in rough circumstances in general) are scared to ask because they are scared God does not want to bless them or that He can't or won't answer. While we have to approach God knowing that He is not a magic genie and not every prayer gets the answer we long for, the fear of praying reflects our negative view of God, implying that He does not care about our pain, longings, desires, needs.
A huge step towards contentment is prayer, bringing your requests before the Lord! Pray for a change in circumstances and a change in our own hearts. Pray for spouses and answers but also pray for contentment without those things. Pray for understanding and encouragement from others.
The Lord may not answer your prayer the way you hoped (although He will answer it perfectly), but the Lord is the only one who CAN answer prayers so why not approach Him humbly (but boldly) in prayer, asking that He meet your needs and sustain you?
Bringing our requests before the Lord not only can lead to answers and blessings, it can also strengthen our relationship with the Lord, calm our anxieties (as the verse says), and develop good habbits for prayer in the future -- I hope I continue to be eager to pray for myself and others long after I am married (through the many ups and downs of life!). Also, communion with the Lord where we share our needs and requests reminds us that the Lord hears and loves us in our pain and neediness.