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Unexpected Answers to Prayer

Anjeanine Delgado, Outreach Pastor

Prayer is so important.  It's how we, as believers, communicate with our Lord.  It also allows space for us to hear from Him, when we sit quietly.  Prayer is talking...we can do this all kinds of ways--corporate prayer, prayer alone or with a physical posture that represents our own heart posture.  We pray for our needs or for the needs of others, and we pour out our gratitude and love for God in prayer.  God wants to hear it all.  He cares so much for us.  

Most of my life, I've heard that communication is key to any meaningful relationship.  I have heard this from my parents and teachers and counselors so much that it seems ingrained...why would that be any different for our relationship with our Lord?  I know all too well that most misunderstandings happen because the communication is not clear, you know, because active listening is hard and we all want to feel heard.  Some of the same issues can make our communication with God seem difficult as well, but I have learned that clear communication helps there too.

It is so much easier to see when the Lord answers our prayers if we are specific and clear with God, just like with our spouse or kids or the people we work with.  I've seen God grant requests and wants that I hadn't even made into a formal prayer petition.  For example, one time I had just a simple shopping trip planned but mentioned that what I really hoped to find was a black coat that fit well.  To my great joy, I actually found one!  Because I had been so specific in my request, I could immediately see and acknowledge God helping me.  Of course, He is always moving, always at work--the question is, "do we see it?"

Once we have eyes to see, the gratitude flows freely.  When we are aware of His presence and love, in part because we see His answers to prayers, it also reinforces that His promises are true.  We trust and know that communication is happening both ways and our intimacy grows until we are praying without ceasing.  Much of our prayer then moves beyond our needs and gratefulness, we are able to acknowledge God for who He is and just pour out praise for Him.

We also are able to see God at work all around us.  Intercessory prayer, for example, has been able to completely change a ministry environment for the better.  We can host outreach events that may have an air of anxiousness because the need is just so great however, when a few people committed to intercessory prayer, God's sweet peace, love and grace filled the environment.  Personally, I've seen our Lord answer prayer, in His timing, with an abundant answer; giving more than was even asked for.

I've seen a need arise and then that need being met by our generous and faithful God.  For example, someone called in to say they needed a mattress.  We took down their information and genuinely promised to follow up if we found a way to get them one, but inside I thought this was a really difficult request to fill.  Then, within a couple of days, a credible source came forward with a mattress that they wanted to donate!  We were able to connect the two and they are both sleeping better now.  

I must confess that sometimes follow through is a challenge.  We hear of a need and a resource, but the two never quite connect.  The reasons are as diverse as the people: situations change, needs are met in other ways, a person can be so overwhelmed that greater needs take over, or they may even make poor choices with consequences that eliminate the need.  How we choose to process adversity can make all the difference.  Living by faith is not easy, and it is something I am still working on.  God is sovereign and He is able to meet our needs.  More importantly, He is able to fulfil His promises.

Here are just a few scriptures that help encourage me to pray, that I pray over others who seem to have need beyond what I feel equipped to manage, and that I can pray to worship the God who loves me so well.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

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