Does God answer prayer? Yes.
How do I know? Because I have been writing down my prayers since November 17, 2014 and I have evidence of things asked and answered.
On November 29 I prayed that two family members would resolve their issues with one another — issues that were prohibiting them from even being in each other’s presence for any amount of time. In fact, I didn’t just pray that prayer on November 29 — I prayed it over and over and over. On December 22 I asked that these two would turn to each other. On March 30 I asked that God would breathe new life into their relationship. How did God answer that prayer? He turned arguments into agreements. He turned yelling into laughter. He turned suspicion into trust. He turned avoidance into partnership. He answered my prayer beyond what I could ask or imagine. I was hoping for a truce; He provided an alliance.
I’ve also been praying consistently that I would find the right kind and the right amount of employment in light of my current health status. On February 26 I asked God to put me and keep me on His path. On March 30 I prayed that God would show me how much to do and when. On April 21 I prayed that He would help me find my rhythm. On April 22 I asked that God would give me the wisdom to live within the boundaries He has set for me. On May 7 I prayed that He would grant me discernment in my work and in my family. On May 28 I asked that God would give me His pace and direct me to His work. On June 6 I asked for the physical strength to do the things that He is calling me to. On June 30 I prayed for God’s pace and His way for me. Lately I have been asking over and over for God to show me how to best use my time in ways that give honor to him.
Let’s digress for a moment to remind ourselves that since April I have been experimenting with employment. After my ‘time of refreshing’ last fall — a period of time where my health was fairly well-managed, I took a position doing what I love to do — working with children. For over four months I have been learning and growing along side some exceptionally professional coworkers and some inspiring students at an agency that does intensive instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, if I’m going to be honest, the pace has been a little much. It might have been ok if I hadn’t taken on about a half-dozen students outside of work, but I just love those students — the ones I meet in libraries and their homes. They are adults, mostly, and some high school students, who need one-on-one coaching in writing and English. Interacting with them feeds me. I have loved working both at the agency and through my tutoring service, but I have also been exhausted — too depleted to offer much to my family. Hence, the prayers.
“Show me what you want me to do!” “Teach me how to pace myself.” “How much is enough?” “How much is too much?” “How can my gifts be best put to use?”
I had determined that as we moved into fall, I would reduce my hours at the agency and continue working with six to eight students on my own each week. That sounded like a workable plan. And then, amidst all those prayers and cries, came an email offering a direction I wasn’t expecting. It threw me a little.
Over the years, my oldest daughter has often come to me for advice with a Scenario A and a Scenario B — which option should she choose? She spends time telling me the pros and cons of each alternative and then I usually say something like, “Is there a third option?” In the last couple of years, she has started to say the same thing to me. When I say “Should I A or B?” She will say, “What’s the third option?”
In all my prayers, I was thinking I had the answer. I knew the current situation, A, was too much; I had determined the alternative, B, would likely solve the problem. And then, God provided C.
I didn’t know what to do, so I enlisted the battalion and my husband in prayer and dialogue. I tried to stick with option B — my solution. I really did. But then I started seeing scenarios in my head that weren’t there before. I started imagining myself in option C. I started seeing how option C would provide a pace that I could live with while still providing the interactions that feed me. I started to see the barriers that I thought existed evaporate.
This morning I told my husband my plan to move toward option C. A few hours later I sat down at my computer to take some steps in that direction, but as I did so, I shot out a text to the battalion saying that I was moving forward but inviting God to step in and block the way. It was at that moment that I paused to do my Bible study. I am not making this up: the theme of today was to ‘not put God to the test’.
He has provided an answer to my prayers. He has affirmed it through my husband and my prayer support. Why would I invite him to step in and block the way? Do I need more proof? Why? Because my faith is small. Even after He blew my socks off with the answer to my prayers for the family situation. Even after he provided over and above what was expected in financial aid for our daughter. Even after he provided a job for our other daughter — one that she didn’t even apply for, doing exactly what she wants to do, in the major city where she wants to live. Even after all that, I still have a very small faith.
He answered my prayer. He gave me a gift. I shall say thank you and receive the gift. I won’t second-guess it or put God to the test. I will trust that this answer is His.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen