Thursday, January 27, 2011

Answered Prayer

Here's an article that I read earlier today on prayer, and thought was really good...

"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven." (Matthew 18:19)

"The best motivator for prayer is answered prayer." My mom has said that to me for years.

I'm not what I would call a "prayer warrior." I have a picture in my head of what a prayer warrior is, and I'm not it. But I pray. Sometimes I pray down a list of requests, other times simply as things come to mind. Occasionally I'll pray straight from a passage in the Bible. I pray at church, at work, at home and even on the trail while running. (The latter prompts amazingly efficient prayers.)

The other night at Bible study, we were talking about prayer. One girl mentioned how she has a hard time being consistent in asking God for something because she fears ultimately being disappointed. "If God already knows what's best," she asked, "then why don't I just leave it to Him? Why should I keep bringing up what I want only to have it not happen?"

It got us all thinking and discussing what it means to wait for God. I have many prayers that I've seen answered, but I rarely record answers to prayer, which is a shame. Sometimes God answers in a snap, and I go forward boldly with a decision. Sometimes I have to start moving in a certain direction and wait for guidance in the process. And other times I wait and wait ... and wait. There are several big things I'm still waiting on. And sure, praying for them can get discouraging. It can even seem pointless. Occasionally I want a break from having to think about those needs or desires at all. But I still pray.
Some of my best moments in prayer have happened in desperation. They're the times I've literally cried out to God--those moments when I said, "God, You need to show up, or I may not make it through tomorrow." Usually it's when I'm powerless to change something, or I've experienced loss or rejection, or I'm grieving. I have prayed at those times (and by "prayed," I mean cried/stomped around/read Scripture/argued/blasted various genres of music) and can remember several instances where I experienced what I can only describe as deliverance. Not a quick fix, but a certain lifting of the burden--an understanding that when I woke up the next morning, things would be different. And miraculously (because even though God never changes, my pipsqueak faith is always shocked by His faithfulness), they were.

One of the girls in my Bible study suggested that we all put a handful of prayer requests on a sheet--some big, some small--and begin praying for them together and then tracking their answers as well as our attitudes in the waiting. I'm excited to do it because I think we'll be surprised at how often God speaks. And if we take the time to remember His work in our lives, it'll motivate us to keep dumping our cares into His hands.

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