Goals… Commitment… Trust… Letting Go…
These words were the themes influencing my last post.
So easy to type. So hard to actually practice.
I have thought a lot about each since I last shared my heart with y’all. It’s easy to type up that I’m going to commit to God, trust Him with every aspect of my life, and actually let go. It’s a different story once I log off of my site, shut down my computer, and am faced with reality.
And let’s face it. Most of the time, reality hurts. The tough, hard situations that are a part of life slap us right in the face, knock us down, and at best, simply discourage us. I know I have a few of those situations in my life right now…
Personally, I have prayed for years about these select few situations… seemingly to no avail. Don’t get me wrong, in my seven years of being a Christian, God has definitely answered prayers—the most monumental one being the day that I asked Him to be my Savior! You bet He answered with a resounding YES on that one! I have an entire box of “answered prayers” that I wrote down on cards that I keep in my room as a record of God’s faithfulness to me, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my students, and some whom I have never met and only have been asked to pray for! Literally hundreds of cards that each signify an answered prayer—when God answered “yes” and even when God answered “no.”
Even with these hundreds of examples of God’s faithfulness to His daughter preserved in a box beside my dresser, I still find myself doubting His good plans, doubting if He hears my cries. I have echoed the psalmist many times:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God…” (Psalm 13:1-3a).
I know what you’re thinking… so dramatic! But I think we’ve all gotten to a point in our Christian lives where we ask these questions of God, especially when what we are asking for in our prayers is “good” or “wholesome.” I think of my mom’s bestfriend who passed away of cancer. We prayed for physical healing, yet God chose to answer in a different way, through spiritual healing and bringing her “home” to heaven. The act of us praying for physical healing was “good” and “wholesome,” but it wasn’t God’s plan.
Now, how God decides to answer our prayers is a different message for a different day, and one that I’m probably not capable of answering. But the message that God has impressed upon my heart today is persistence in prayer.
Persisting in prayer… in crying out to God with the desires of our hearts. It may be a Christian significant other, healing, finances, or something else. Whatever the prayer is, the message is still the same… persist.
I can think of many examples in the Bible of persisting in prayer, but my favorite by far is recorded in 1 Kings. In 1 Kings 18:1, we find that there had been a drought in the land for three years, but God told Elijah that He was going to send rain. In between this first verse and the end of the chapter, Elijah challenges the prophets who worshipped a false god, Baal. Essentially, Elijah said that other prophets’ god was false, His God was the one true God, and that God would prove it through this challenge. The challenge can be seen in verses 1-40, but the end result is that God proved Himself as the one true God through His miracle that He displayed!
After the challenge is where we will pick up.
“Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go get something to eat and drink, for I hear a mighty rainstorm coming!’ So Ahab went to eat and drink. But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel and bowed low to the ground and praying with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, ‘Go and look out toward the sea.’ The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, ‘I didn’t see anything.’ Seven times Elijah told him to go and look. Finally the seventh time, his servant told him, ‘I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.’ Then Elijah shouted, ‘Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’ And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm…” 1 Kings 18:41-45
As I was struggling with these situations that I had brought before the Lord, He gently reminded me of this passage. He soothed my aching soul in regard to time. He brought my attention to the first verse—there was a drought for three years!
No rain. No answer to prayers.
In my own perception, I had been in a spiritual drought as far as these situations had been concerned because I had not seen the answer to my prayers (or any answer for that matter) come to fruition in my life!
“Macey, I see you in the midst of your drought. I’m here. I never left. Be patient.”
He soothed my aching soul in regard to faith. Not only did He remind me of the hundreds of answered prayers in my box in my room, He brought my attention to verse 41 and the faith of Elijah. Before Elijah prayed, he told the king that he heard the rainstorm coming! Whew at that faith!
“Macey, have faith that the rains are coming… listen closely as you hear it fall in the distance…”
He impressed upon my heart the importance of unwavering persistence. Elijah prayed, not once, but seven times before the rain cloud ever appeared in the distance!
“My daughter, keep praying… the rain’s coming…”
So soothing to this tired heart. So soothing to this aching soul. So soothing to this frazzled faith. Whatever that unanswered prayer is, that cry of your heart that you feel like is falling on deaf ears, be patient… be persistent… have faith… because the rain cloud is coming…