I received a question the other day along the lines of, “Do you believe it’s possible that prayer will help prevent weight gain? If I ask God to keep my body the same, will he?”
My answer, in short, was no.
But I’ve had that thought before, too. In my teenage years, I was terrified of gaining weight, and even more terrified to think that because I ate more than I thought I should, that my body would change in a way I hoped it wouldn’t.
But as I grew in my faith (and in my body) I came to realize that the most important factor determining whether a prayer is answered in the affirmative is if our hearts align with God’s heart — and the truth of the matter is that God isn’t quite so concerned with the size and shape of our bodies.
Here’s What I Know:
- God created our bodies uniquely.
Humanity is beautifully diverse. We are brown, black, white, and yellow. We have blonde hair, brown hair, red hair and black hair. We have green eyes, blue eyes, gray eyes and brown eyes — of all shades and hues. We are tall and short, bearded and bald, muscular and soft — and all of us are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
The same is true about the sizes and shapes of our bodies. Thin bodies are no better or more dearly loved, larger bodies are no less. There is nothing wrong with the various shapes of our bodies, their Creator takes no issue with any of them, and so there is no need to try and pray yours away.
If God isn’t concerned about it, He isn’t going to do anything about it.
- Our calling as Christians is to respect creation.
Many of us are dissatisfied with the natural size and shape of their bodies, and we often take extreme measures to try to manipulate ourselves. We attempt to lose weight, increase muscle tissue, decrease body fat. We undergo surgical augmentation. We take weight loss pills, starve ourselves, exercise to the point of exhaustion, and pray through it all, asking God to help sustain our self-abuse.
God does not provide the strength to endure self-imposed abuse for the sake of changing our bodies from what they were naturally designed to be.
But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Does not the potter have the right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special occasions and another for common use?Romans 9:20-21
In my youth, when I’d pray that God would preserve the unhealthfully small size of my body, I was praying that he would empower me to eat well but maintain a weight that was too low. (I was sick of dieting, but couldn’t give up my dream of being thin.) God created human physiology with an intentional design, and he wasn’t going to (and didn’t) alter it just because I wanted him to.
- Our greater calling is to love God and make him known to others.
If our desire for our body to change truly stems from ministry-minded intent (for example, if we desire to increase in physical fitness so we are better equipped for the mission field) I believe that God will bless that endeavor. But if our desire for our bodies to change stems from envy, jealously, self-disgust (hatred), vanity (idolatry), or the desire to draw attention to ourselves for sexual reasons, popularity, or social leverage, my understanding is that since those things are at odds with the heart of God (which they are, more often than not,) he will not bless them.
So, the longer answer to that question is no, I don’t believe that we can pray away weight gain because weight gain isn’t bad, a sin, or something that is contrary to the call of God on our lives.
Do you have thoughts or experiences in this regard? If so, share them below!