During the month of January, our church is having an emphasis on prayer. I was asked to lead the prayer time prior to the service for our worship team a few weeks ago. This is the devotional that I shared…Like me, you all may have some specific things that you are praying for during this time. As I was writing those requests in my journal, God reminded me that an important part of an emphasis on prayer is that we remember what He has done in the past and all the ways He has answered our prayers before.
As we see in the Old Testament time and time again, people had memorials, markers, as reminders of what God had done…of his promises, protection, and provision. Noah built an altar to worship after coming off the ark. That altar served as a reminder of all that God had done during the flood.
Abram, later known as Abraham, built many altars as well. He also planted a tamarisk tree (a deciduous tree with pink, red or white flowers that grows up to 25 feet tall). And there, he called on the name of the Lord. That tree – that tall tree bursting in color – would have reminded him later of all that God had done
People often named locations, like mountains or wells, in remembrance. When God spared Isaac and provided a ram instead for the offering, Abraham called that place, that mountain, “The Lord will provide.” As he passed by there, he would have remembered.
One of my favorite stories is of Hagar. When Sarah mistreated her and she ran away, the angel of the Lord came to her. She gave the Lord the name “You are the God who sees me.” And she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” The well in that place carried that name. God saw her.
Later Hagar was forced to leave. She left with a skin of water and some food. The water ran out. She sat her boy under a bush and sat down near by sobbing. This time scripture said God heard her. After the Angel of the Lord spoke to her, she opened her eyes and there was a well there. I think she must have remembered the first well at that moment and recalled that not only had God heard her that he saw her. He hears and sees us, too.
Later, Moses and Miriam wrote a song as a reminder of all that God had done for the Israelites leaving Egypt.
In Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites to remember at least 16 times. Because like the Israelites, we easily forget. We lose faith and have trouble believing for the prayers we have today. Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
As I scrolled back through the memories of our married life, answered prayers were scattered throughout the last 25 years.
We had been praying for a baby for several years. I was having surgery to remove cysts that were preventing pregnancy. My church prayed for me the Sunday before going in. During the surgery, the doctor was shocked to find NOTHING! A few months later I was pregnant with Christian. I had a little explaining to do with the doctor. 🙂 God hears and answers prayers.
During a prayer emphasis at our church in 2001, God called Jimi into the worship ministry which changed the trajectory of our life. He has his job today because of that calling.
God put on my heart in 2002 to pray for a child by the end of the year. Now, that I thought was a crazy prayer. I had never prayed for anything like that ever. When pregnancy didn’t happen, we began praying for adoption. Too many answered prayers and details to recount. But, for those of you who know anything about adoption, the process is usually long. We turned our paper work in the first of July and Elijah came home August 26 of that same year…while we were also in the middle of a church plant on missions support. Less than 9 months after I prayed that prayer in January. He was 10 months old. Elijah had already been born when I prayed that crazy prayer. God’s plans were already in motion. He hears and answers prayers.
I have a wonderful group of ladies that are my dear friends and prayer partners. We have prayed for all sorts of things. We have prayed for babies…one friend now has 3 that came in 2 years, so we had to stop praying for babies. We have prayed for lost cymbals and a lost wedding ring, for our husbands’ jobs, for sick and hurting children – for their protection and provision (for those of you who have driving teens, you will understand). We have prayed for relationships to be reconciled and some to be removed. One husband is a pilot and we prayed for him to be home for Christmas last year, which seemed absolutely impossible since he was across the globe, but he made it! Is anything too hard for God?
Some of the prayers were answered quickly, some we have waited several years to see the answer and some we are still praying. But God provides strength and peace during the waiting.
Sometimes the answer was not what we expected. A closed door or maybe an unexpected open window. But, what I know is that God hears us. He sees us. He does answer prayers. Regardless of how or when the prayer is answered, we can remember –
Romans 8:28: “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
He not only wants us to spend time praying for our requests. I think He wants us to remember. And, as we remember, it builds our faith and trust in Him. Ephesians 3:20 says: “He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
John Piper says: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”
As you are praying this week, spend some time remembering. You don’t have to plant a tree, write a song, or name a well, but you can journal some of those answered prayers or write them on a sticky note. If you are like me, it will help you to believe that nothing is too hard for God.
As we prepare our hearts for today, Psalm 107:21-22 tells us this: “Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for the wonderful things he has done for them. Let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving and sing joyfully about his glorious acts.”