“I still remember when I prayed for the things I have now.”
Maybe you have my tendency to pray about things and worry over them until they are answered and then you promptly move on to your next request for the Lord. It’s not that I’m not grateful but I tend to have a checklist of wants and needs and I just move on down the line without stopping to truly take in the Lord’s provision or revel in His overwhelming faithfulness.
The Lord really convicted me of this so, back in January I decided to take decisive action to force myself to stop in my prayer time and reflect on the Lord’s faithfulness in both answered and unanswered prayers. My method for this is by journaling my prayers which isn’t a new concept and one I’ve tried to do on and off throughout my life. The difference this time is that I not only write down my prayers but at the end of each month I go back over said prayers and highlight all the ones the Lord has answered. I do this during my quiet time each morning and I only worry with the prayers that come to me at that time rather than racing to my journal throughout the day to jot every little thing down. Let me tell you, this method of journaling and reflecting has done several things for my prayer life.
It has reminded me of God’s faithfulness. It is real encouraging to look back and see pages upon pages of highlights. It’s hard to live in fear when you hold a visual representation of His faithfulness in front of you. Anytime the enemy tries to slip doubt into my prayer life I can shake my book in his face and show him for the liar that he is!
It has reminded me that God is not only faithful in the BIG things but also in the LITTLE things. So often I act as if the Lord doesn’t want me to bring the trivial, silly things to him but I know he is a loving Father that wants me to come to him with all my needs just like I would my earthly father. Trust me my little journal has prayers for friends battling for their lives, prayers about the spiritual state of our nation, prayers for a date and prayers that the weird noise my car is making will go away. You know what? He has listened to them all and answered according to His wisdom and will.
It has reminded me that it’s not my job to know everything. When I first started highlighting the answered prayers there were some prayers that I couldn’t say if they had been answered or not because I wasn’t close enough to the situation or person to be privy to that information. It really bugged me because I wanted to know if my prayers were being effective which is real stupid. For one, the effectiveness of prayer is contingent on the Lord not on me and two, in the end, it is none of my dang business! There are prayers in my journal that I will never know the outcome of and some that may not have an outcome for thirty years but that doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t working.
It has made me take a more intentional approach to my prayer life. What I mean by that is if I write something out it is a lot more real than an ambiguous thought. This may seem silly but when I first started there were things that I was afraid to write in the journal for fear that if anyone read them the would think me foolish and truthfully I felt I was setting myself up for disappointment or I felt that I already knew the Lord’s answer so there was no point putting it down. I didn’t want to look back two months later and realize that the Lord said no or wait so I would simply not record my request. The Father convicted me about this on one of the most trivial topics...my dating life. Why wasn’t I truly asking the Father for what I wanted? Why wasn’t I being intentional like I would be if I were asking my Daddy for something? How insane that I was willing to ask him for life changing miracles but afraid to ask for things that didn’t amount to a hill of beans? Matthew 21:22 tells us to ask. Just do it! The worst that can happen is He says no and even then you know it is for your own good. Besides how can you be disappointed that the Lord has answered a request you haven’t made?
It has allowed me to see how prayer doesn’t just change circumstances it changes me. There have been many situations that started with prayers to change a person that over the course of a few weeks or a few months have turned into prayers to change my heart towards that person or prayers for that person in general. For example, there is a woman I know who drives me slightly bonkers because we don’t have the same social decorum, she often says things for shock value and in general she just aggravates me. I started out praying that she would learn to behave or at least learn to keep her mouth shut but the Lord convicted me of the selfishness of these prayers so for one month she became my “prayer topic”. I prayed everything I could think of in regards to this woman. I prayed for her job and her kids. I prayed for her neediness and her understanding. I prayed for her vacation travels and her friends. Let me tell you, by the end of the month I looked forward to seeing her every week so I could see how her life was going or find another area of need that I could pray over. Are we BFFs now? Definitely not but I do see her a little more like the Father does and that’s the point. (God bless all the people praying I would get my act together.)
So, think back on your prayers. What do you have now that you once so desperately begged the Lord for? What do you take for granted that at one point seemed like only a miracle the Lord could provide? These are the things you should remember and praise the Lord for every chance you get. Don’t allow busyness or passing time to trivialize the way prayer has worked in your life and don’t miss the real and intentional hand of the Father on your circumstances and needs. Prayer is our direct line of communication to the Father and it has the POWER to move mountains if you would only allow it! So just chat with the Lord as your Daddy, friend and advisor then sit tight because WOW!