And When You Pray...

Have you ever experienced an answer to your prayers? Something that there's just no getting around that God listened and answered your specific request? Did you know that Scripture says...

[...] The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. {James 5:16b-17}

Are you specific in what you ask for in your prayers? I don't mean praying that if you go to bed overweight, you will wake up with the body of a marathon runner, but in the specific, "Lord, I'm asking you to do..." something which is possible, but that I have no control over.

Early Tuesday morning I was jolted awake by a nightmare about work. Usually, I'm not bothered by something I dreamed, but this time I experienced a spirit of fear that did not go away. I was already worried about how the day was going to go and about how the evening would play out (I was closing at my job), so the added fear from the dream was really starting to bother me.

As I lay in bed, I began to pray and the Lord brought to mind my favorite verse in Isaiah...

So do not fear, for I AM with you; do not be dismayed, for I AM your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. {Isaiah 41:10}

I realized that I had been bothered about Tuesday all week-end, but that God has instructed us not to worry about tomorrow {Matt. 6:25-34}. While laying there, I also recalled to mind that [...] God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. {2 Tim. 1:7}, and finally, the Lord reminded me of the verses in James and convicted me that I hadn't brought the specifics to Him in prayer.

Let me be clear that it's not because God doesn't know what we need or want, but I believe that we need to be specific because that way, when we see the prayer being answered, we recognize the fingerprint of God on the situation. It strengthens our faith and reminds us that He cares about the tiniest details of our life. Oh yes, my fervent prayers usually go something like, "Oh Lord, help me make it through this day without screwing up!", but I was convicted that I failed to be specific in what I needed, or just plain wanted, to happen.

And so I started praying - specifics - and asking the Lord to help me handle whatever the day held, even if He chose to give me a "No" answer to my request. I still had a sense of fear about the day, so I asked God to help me conquer that as I knew it wasn't pleasing to Him. You know, the Bible says that we are created in the image of God {Gen. 1:27}, which makes me think that God has a sense of humor, because I know that we do. I like to imagine Him chuckling over how I would be blown away by His encouragement.

It started when I logged onto Facebook (yes, FACEBOOK, of all places!) and the very first post of the day that I see is this passage from Psalms...

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” [...] You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. {Ps. 91:1-2, 5-6}

Okay Lord, I'm starting to get the picture.

But a few hours went by and when Peter called on his morning break, I was feeling fearful again. After we talked about it some, he assured me he would be praying and that I would be fine. When I got off the phone with him, I decided I'd pop on to Pinterest to help me take my mind off things before I headed into work at noon. Want to know what the first pin was on my home page?

Oh, which also happens to be the theme verse for the Sunday school at church right now. Right Lord, I'm with You!

So, you're probably wondering what happened at work on Tuesday, aren't you? Well, I prayed specifically that there would be no issues and that we would have almost no customers from the time my other co-worker left at 7 until I left at 9. Around 8:15, I actually got tickled because we were SO QUIET! When I left at 9:00, I couldn't stop laughing. What a timely reminder to me that God cares about the smallest details of our lives if we're only willing to give them up to Him and trust that He will care for us!

Yet while I'm sharing about this specific answer to my specific prayers, I want to remind you (and me) that God doesn't always respond with a "Yes" answer. Last week, a missionary pilot and his two passengers in Indonesia died in an airplane crash. I'm quite sure they prayed for safety before they took off for the day, and yet God chose to call Paul home. Earlier this week, I saw the grief of a family over a sister's quick illness and death - and in reading the previous FB posts, they were crying out to God for a miracle and for people to pray for healing. Again, God's answer was "No", even though the "why" may not be clear this side of Heaven.

But just because He doesn't answer our prayers the way we think He should, does not mean that He does not answer. We ought not to loose faith in prayer or in a Sovereign God because we think our way is better. While we see a tiny portion of the painting, God sees the big picture. He knows those who will come to know Christ as a result of Paul's death, or the people who are pointed to Christ through a Facebook status. Even Jesus prayed to the Father, asking for the plan to change, but ultimately, He asked for God's will to be done...

Going a little farther, [Jesus] fell with His face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” {Matt. 26:39}

When the results of my prayer aren't what I wanted, I choose to accept God's will for my life, just as I will thank my Heavenly Father when He chooses to answer my prayers and strengthen my faith through a "Yes" answer.

May you be encouraged by the "yes" and faithful in the "no" - my prayer for you, and for me.


  1. Carrie, I read this post just after coming back from getting some lunch, and while I had been driving back to work God nudged my heart to pray for something more specifically that I had been praying for generally... He gave me peace knowing He might say "no" but then I could ask again the next day. Then I got back to work and read your blog. CRAZY.

    I'm definitely praying a lot of specific prayers right now, knowing God may say "no" to some of them, but I also know that some of my prayers right now are for things that I KNOW are His will, so I can trust that He will bring fruition to those. His timing may not be mine, but I know He will answer.

    Prayer has been on my mind a TON this week -- specifically, Tuesday morning, and then again this morning. Thanks for giving me one more nudge in that direction through this post.

  2. Great post Carrie....one I very much needed to hear with some of the emotions I have been struggling with this week. I have been mind cluttered and need to clear my thoughts better for my conversations with God. Thanks for reminding me of this. Thanks for the reminder of how awesome God is. = D

  3. Beautifully written, friend.
    This is a perfectly timely reminder for me.
    Thank you.

  4. Kaysi - I'm SO GLAD that my life lesson was an encouragement to you as well. Isn't God neat?!?! Blessings!

    Irish - I'm glad it helped you and I pray that you made time to be quiet with the Lord...so important all the time, but especially on those crazy days!

    Molly - Glad God used it as a reminder. He certainly did for me.


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