All throughout high school, I got As. Straight-As. I prided myself in rarely getting a B, and never being seen with a C. D and F were absolutely unheard of until college. College has a way of kicking smart people in the butt. I have found that to be oddly common and it confuses me, but it is true. It was in college, more specifically Bible school, that I failed a class for the first and only time. It was a class on prayer.
Yes, I failed, as in solid "F" a class on prayer. There is a life lesson in that alone, the fact that obviously I was passing all other classes in my strength, but the one on prayer, I just couldn't wrap my hands around it. So much has changed in the past three years.
I just finished chatting with a friend about prayer. It is a subject that has been on my mind and on the mind of other Christian authors as of late. Leslie Ludy shares a story on her blog from the birth of her most recent child, Avonlea Rose. After a horrific experience with their first child, Eric and Leslie prayed that this birth would be different, and it was. Leslie recounts that even while in labor, she and her husband would pray fervently. At one point, just before the transition stage, Leslie knew her strength was failing her. This had been the hardest stage with Hudson, and she did not want to go through it ok. So she prayed, she prayed specifically that God would work in her body and bring their new baby into the world without having to have the transition phase. According to Leslie, minutes later Avonlea made her arrival. Coincidentally, Eric and Leslie just finished a book on prayer. I don't believe it is on shelves yet, but after following what God has been doing in their lives, I can assure you, it will be good.
For the past six months, God has been teaching me about prayer. Since, obviously, I couldn't get it when a professor tried, God has given me a remidial class and has driven me into a deeper, bolder prayer life with Him. I could tell you the date. Well close. This class began on February 27. As I prayed, I felt a strong impression to ask God for a publisher for my book. It seemed foolish to me. Of course I need a publisher. Of course I want a publisher, but I didn't even have a book. To me and my human logic, there was no point in asking for a publisher. The next day, guess what He gave me.
I had not asked, but He had given. When I prayed after that, I realized the faithfulness of God. He gave me a desire of my heart and was faithful to provide that which I did not have enough faith to ask for. It would be the same if Peter had just thought, "Man! I wish I could do that!" and God teleported him out onto the water. God was giving me a taste. A small taste of the power of prayer. Since then, I have learned much.
Prayer needs to be bold. I guess I equate boldness with honesty. I get highly annoyed when people tiptoe around an issue. It drives me crazy. It takes all of God's grace for me to not throttle them and say, "Would you just tell me!" Yet, I do it to God so often. I pull the whole, "God, you know the desires of my heart so if you could please just give them to me, that'd be great." I wonder if God's response isn't, "Yes, I do know them. Humor Me, though, just this once and actually ask for them."
Unlike humans, God doesn't get offended when we ask for something. At least, I don't believe He does. He longs to bless us. He wants to give us abundant lives. He says in the Gospels that we have not because we ask not. So prayer is bold...
and specific. Beating around the bush drives me crazy. So does vagueness. Do not expect me to understand what you mean when you do not tell me what you mean. It is really an interesting concept, and it kinda ties in with boldness. Since June, I have been praying for a certain couple I know to get pregnant. I know they are wanting to, so it is not as if I am praying spite on them. More than that, based on the circumstances, I have prayed that God would give them twins. Specific prayer.
I finished reading the Kings last week, and there is an account of Elisha (or Elijah, can't remember) working with a widow. She is in debt and is afraid for her family, so the prophet tells her to gather jars and fill them with oil. If my memory is serving correctly, she had to lock the door. As she filled the jars, the oil didn't stop coming! Until she reached the last jar. She looked up for the next jar and there weren't anymore, and the oil stopped.
We really need to be expecting God to do big things. He is God, is He not? He is able. So, why are we so afraid to ask? Ask for specific things. I have one dream in this world that I have shared with one other person and I have begun to pray for that one dream to come true, and have, in that prayer, explained to God why I want that dream to come true. That may sound selfish, but it is not. I think God wants prayers like that more than prayers of "God please bless me today."
How would you like that blessing? Rare or well done?
Prayers need to be willing. We have to be willing to accept a change in our plans. We have to leave room for the will of God. Our prayers are not "God give me this or else." They are "God, I really desire this and I am asking You to make it happen and in the meantime give me the contentment to live without it." That is true, powerful prayer.