I want to pose what would seem to be an obvious question. Do you believe in prayer? Now those of you that are Christians would quickly respond with something like "of course" or "absolutely". But, if I could have spent the past week in your shirt pocket without you knowing it, I would be able to tell if you really believe in prayer or whether you simply give lip service to it. As Christians we have to say we believe in prayer. If we said no it would be sacrilegious. Technically, you can't be a Christian and not believe in prayer to some extent. You HAVE to believe that God heard your prayer for salvation in order to become a Christian. You have to believe that He heard your plea for forgiveness and answered it by allowing Jesus to pay your penalty for sin.
That's not the kind of belief I am talking about. I mean do you really believe in your heart of hearts that you can take a need or a care or a concern to God and He hears it, understands it, and acts according to it? Do you really?
How in the world can that be? How can God hear my prayer and your prayer and everyone else's prayer in the whole world and actually act on them? If God DOES indeed answer prayers, what kind of prayers does He answer? I mean if I go ask for a new BMW with those little head lights that turn to shine around corners does that mean He will give it to me? Well what if I want it REALLY bad? What if I REALLY believe He will give it to me? What if I REALLY believe I NEED it because I have trouble seeing around corners without those little lights? Is God going to give it to me? If you say no, then when does God answer prayer? If we don't know when He will and when He won't then how will we ever believe that He will?
You can go to Lifeway Christian Book Store and find about upteen thousand books on prayer and how it works and when it works etc. We really take and humanize the whole affair and make it fit into our desired understanding of God. The reality is that it is pretty simple. I want to lay out a few verses to help us understand prayer better.
(By the way, I am going through this because we have some needs we need some people to pray for. I want us to be reminded of how to pray effectively so that we can see God move. It is not un-Biblical to need to learn to pray more effectively. The disciples asked Jesus to help them pray more effectively.)
First of all we see the example of Jesus praying:
Matthew 14:23 NIV
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone
Matthew 19:13 NIV
Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.
Matthew 26:36 NIV
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
Then we see Jesus expects us to pray:
Matthew 6:6 NIV
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:9 NIV
"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name
Mark 14:38 NIV
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
But when does God answer prayers. You often hear someone say that God answers prayers with "yes, no, or not now." That is a true statement, but often times it is a cop out for not believing God will answer. If God doesn't answer we just say well that must mean no. That is a weak argument for the power of prayer. Even Garth Brooks knew that in the 90's when he sang "thank God for unanswered prayers". We should probably aim to be a little more theologically sound than to get our doctrinal beliefs from country music!
So how does it work then? James 5 says prayers offered "in faith" are the ones God answers. A definition of faith that I like is that faith is acting on the revealed will of God. So...praying God's revealed will brings about answered prayer.
If you know God's will, you can pray and rest assured it will be answered. Roman's 12 says that we can know God's will by renewing our minds by "the word" and not being conformed to the world. So let's pray God's will and get some answered prayers that we can share with our friends to encourage their faith! Let's get "into the word" - read the Bible- so our minds can be transformed and we can KNOW God's will and pray accordingly.
Here are some things I would like to ask people to pray for:
* Completion of the adoptions of our two little guys. Supposedly, it will go through some time next month!
* Our house to sell- we can't go to Haiti until our house sells- we know God's will is for us to go to Haiti- (If you want to know how I know just contact me and I will share it with you.) so let's pray it gets sold...soon!
* Our parcel of land we own with a partner- that too needs to sell so we can leave because we owe money on it.
* An electrical system for our apartment- We need a solar electrical system for our apartment in Haiti- It will cost about $7500-9000- The bigger prayer request is not just the money it is that I will know how to work it out with the folks that will be installing it and the missionaries that live there at House of Bread. Do I need to make a trip down to get it installed in advance? I need wisdom on the issue.
* Other items that need to be completed in our apartment- bathroom fixtures, lights, ceiling fans, doors, etc. I need wisdom on when to go down to get those things done and how to get the items there that we will be taking vs. buying them there. I have so much other stuff going on here right now I am having trouble seeing how to get down there to get that done before we finish up here.
* For our older kids that will remain here to get 'established' before we leave - Logan is in CA with YWAM right now but he will be done there in June. Megan is still here and we haven't found God's clear direction for her at this point, and Luke is finishing 9th grade.
* How to get rid of all of our stuff- We are a bit overwhelmed at the best way to get rid of everything. We have looked at auctions and everything but it is more of a logistical issue. What to sell, what to give away, what to pack to take and when to do all of the above!
* Optometry Clinic Equipment- we have been given all the equipment for a lab to make glasses but we do not have the equipment necessary to set up the actual eye clinic. We are praying for that equipment to be donated and shipped.
* Shipping of our "stuff"- we have a ministry that can ship our stuff from Penn. but we need to get it there and we will need about $5000 for the shipping and then a couple thousand more to clear customs and everything.
* Preparation of our kids- Jaxon 8 months, Josie 2.5, Judah 3.5, Jacy almost 7- emotional, spiritual and physical preparation.
* For Joy- She is caring for our 4 little kids, homeschooling Jacy, taking care of our house, and her first little bird has left the nest and is in California - All of that on top of the fact that she is getting rid of everything she owns and moving to Haiti- She is handling it all amazingly but I really want some people that I can be trusting to pray specifically for her and to encourage her during this transition time.
* Help building the website www.newvisionhaiti.org
* For Titant- Julie Wirries- who will be going with us. She also needs wisdom in ending things here and preparing for things there. She is a HUGE blessing to our family and a source of wisdom and strength for Joy and I.
* Other stuff- all of our shots, the kids' passports, health insurance, ending all of our contracts like cell phones and dish network etc, everything else that I know I am forgetting that I will have to do before we leave.
I would like to ask for a HUGE favor! If you are willing to pray for ONE of the topics listed above please let me know. If you feel a particular burden for one of the areas or may have had experience with something similar, please pray for that area. If you have no idea which one but would be willing to diligently pray, ask God to help you choose and then just pick one. I don't mean I am asking for a daily commitment to pray but I am asking for a sincere commitment to TRULY pray that these requests are answered. Please either email me or leave a comment on the blog acknowledging that you will pray for one area and I will keep everyone updated on the status.
Thank you SO much. We truly feel our biggest need is for prayer partners. We are asking for people who know it is not easy to pray faithfully but are willing to do it anyway for the sake of God's kingdom. We are trying to be honest and transparent about where God has us and how we are doing. Some of you are my best friends, others of you I barely know, but we still just want to be open and honest so we can honor God in how we ask for help. I don't want help building our own little kingdom, I want sincere help building GOD'S kingdom! Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.