Part of these answers are potentially because at work we started the year looking at things we wanted to aim for in 2013 and one thing that my group came up with was that we wanted to be more "expectant". Like we are all Christians and we believe that God is who he says he is - all powerful, all knowing, all loving - yet we rarely ask or rely on him. Well for myself, I often will know my own limits and yet will refuse to trust that God can do more than I can. So if I know I have a particularly challenging young person it's not my natural response to pray that God would take over. My natural response is to try my best with the young person and hope that it's enough.
Well anyway being more expectant has meant praying in a way that invites God into situations rather than just asking him to bless things. Trying to let him have control rather than dictating what will happen.
So really it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that this week we have seen a number of answers to prayer:
- We had breakthrough with a girl we had been working with who has been struggling with underage smoking.
- I had breakthrough with being able to just meet up with the girl I mentor - she has been pretty elusive over the last few weeks.
- On Thursday I had a retreat day with a girl from work. We went to a Christian Retreat Centre in Kent called Ashburnham and I had been praying that it would be a refreshing day to be able to see the vision (for my work) more clearly. That happened.
- On Friday I was stressing out that I just had too much to do and not enough time and 2 things that I was supposed to do in the day got cancelled.
- Had a really insightful conversation with a boy who we've been working with for a while who is a known trouble-maker.
- Today I was running late for Church and needed to be there to run the youth and I had just missed the bus (most annoying feeling ever!) but then someone from Church stopped and picked me up.
There have been other answers too but these are the ones that relate to things I have been specifically praying for. Other people in my team have been seeing answers to prayer as well.
I guess answers encourage us to pray more and be more expectant. I find it frustrating how sometimes my lack of faith that God will do anything almost holds him back because I don't hand it over to him.
There is a story in the Bible that encourages me in times when I feel lacking in faith:
"And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” Mark 9:17-29
This story of Jesus healing a demon-possessed boy teaches me a few things:
1. Belief is key in God working - If I really and truly believe and trust in the God I say I do I have no reason to not believe he will work.
2. Even still when there is an element of unbelief God is gracious and can still work
3. Prayer is SUPER important - check out that last verse. Some things can only be battled with in prayer.
I'm hoping 2013 will be a year where I understand a little more what prayer is and what it should look like.