Pray Your Way Through 2017!
“Pray Your Way Through 2017”
I have a very long prayer list. It’s so long that we refer to it as “The List.” Currently, there are 127 items on it. I pray out loud through The List at least 3 or 4 days a week, and the other days, I silently read through it. I’m sharing this information because I want you to know that anyone can pray. If you had told me four years ago that I would have an extensive prayer list and would spend hours a week in prayer, I would have laughed. I didn’t really consider myself a person of prayer, and I certainly didn’t spend a lot of time praying. My prayers were short and sweet, and even though I would occasionally make a list of things to pray about, it never took me very long to pray. I didn’t understand how people could pray for hours.
I’ve read about people who pray extensively and there is usually something uncontrollable that happens that drives them to their knees. Sickness, tragedy, heartbreak, hunger…The thing that drove me to my knees was being fired. My life changed in an instant. Actually, it was my husband and I both being fired from our jobs at the same time on the same day that drove me to my knees. The life that we thought we were building crumbled around us. We pulled into the driveway of the dream house we had just built, and the sense of doom was overwhelming. There was no way that we could make the house payment with no jobs. Our savings would be depleted in a few months, and it wasn’t likely that we would be able to replace our lost income at the level necessary to maintain our lifestyle. We would most likely lose the house.
There were other factors–emotional pain, the negative effect the situation could have on our sons, embarrassment, to name a few. Even though I had not been (as the old timers called it) a “prayer warrior,” I found myself becoming one very quickly. I had no options. We were helpless, powerless, and hopeless. I could barely think straight, but I had heard enough sermons, been to Sunday school enough, and had read enough scripture to know that God is my helper, He is powerful, and He is my hope. So out of sheer desperation, I began to call out to God in prayer.
I wrote my prayer requests down and wrote my prayers out word-for-word. I printed out prayers in books that other people had prayed. I read the book of Psalms and noted the prayers that David prayed, and I prayed them too. I just kept praying! One day, I was praying and felt that God asked me if I would pray two hours a day if I knew that He would change my life. I said, “Yes!” and started getting up before sunrise to pray.
I cannot imagine my life now without prayer. If I sleep in or start another project and don’t pray for a day or two, I feel incomplete. Prayer is my time to meet with God. Even as I write that sentence, I’m amazed! I get to meet with the God of the universe. The One True God who created me, you, the sun, moon, and stars, who keeps the perfect amount of oxygen in the air, and the earth the exact distance from the sun, listens to me pray. In ancient times, only the High Priest of Israel could enter into the place where God resided. Now because of Jesus, we can come boldly before the throne of God. We get to the throne of God in prayer, and that’s where we receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it (Hebrews 4:16).
I’ve prayed for God’s help, and I’ve received it! I’ve had more answers to prayers than I could have ever imagined. And I know this because of The List. I’ve kept track of the requests I’ve made and the prayers I’ve prayed, so when something happens, I realize that it is an answer to prayer. If I hadn’t made The List, and written out the prayers, I wouldn’t remember what I had prayed for. And if I don’t remember what I’ve prayed for, I wouldn’t know that I had received an answer to the prayer! Things still happen and it takes me a while to realize it’s an answer to prayer, but I start flipping back through four-year’s worth of notes until I find where I prayed it, and there it is.
Answered prayers strengthen our faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We pray in faith believing that God hears us and answers us, so when realize that He has, our faith gets stronger. Then the next time we make our request, we can look back at what God did before and be assured that He will answer us again! A friend recently called it “dusting off the old miracle.”
I’m not saying that the last four years haven’t been hard. They have been. What I can say, however, is that I wouldn’t go back to life before 2013 for anything! You see, before then I didn’t know God the way that I know Him now. I hadn’t been desperate for His help. I hadn’t known I was powerless to do anything to change my circumstances. I didn’t think I was weak. Now I know I’m nothing without God! I know that anything I’ve ever achieved is because God blessed me. Falling on my knees before my Heavenly Father has taught me that He’s in control.
It’s liberating to know that God is in control. There’s freedom in knowing that I don’t have to make things happen. I get up each day expecting God to do something amazing because He can! I can’t–but He can! So I pray that He will, and I’m humbled and honored when He does. I trust Him with my life, my dreams, my hopes, my family, my salvation because He has proven Himself to be trustworthy and faithful!
I invite you to “Pray Your Way Through 2017.” Open a notebook, write the date, make your prayer list, write out your prayers, and watch God move in your life. I’ve heard it said that prayer doesn’t change things as much as it changes me. That’s true, but I’m writing from the desk in my dream house, so I know it changes things too!