May24WedMay 24, 2017
There is something about the transition from Spring to Summer which increases my desire to be outside, without a coat or umbrella, and walk with my wife or play with my kids. Unfortunately, over the last few weeks in Central Illinois, we’ve had only few days to delight in such weather. Therefore, when sunny days appear on the horizon, my excitement life skyrockets and I eagerly anticipate those moments outside. Likewise, God has given us a desire to look ahead and seek some affirmation that something good is coming. This desire is called hope. Yet, Proverbs 13:12 says that hope which doesn’t come makes our heart sick. That’s what I feel right now when it’s cold and rainy. But when hope’s goal is experienced, it reminds Jesus’ followers that the Holy Spirit is working and that God loves us (see Romans 5:2-5).
Just as am I hoping for warmer weather, Christians who focus on prayer also desire to see evidence that their prayers are being answered. Prayer is at its core a desire to communion with God. But it’s also a cry of hope which believes that God hears, that He is good, that He works on behalf of His people, and that He will answer in due time.
If you’ve been taking the first third of 2017 to focus on growing in your prayer life (and taking the 20 x 20 challenge seriously), you have likely also been searching for evidence that God does respond. If you have been growing in prayer for five months and see no evidence of God’s sovereign intervention, then it’s not likely that you’re going to keep on praying throughout the year. This is why, as our small groups continue to meet for a few more weeks, it is so critical that we begin to share ways in which God is answering prayer.
I’ll go first by sharing two answers to prayer.
As a pastor, I spend much of my prayer life praying for the hearts of people in our congregation. Here are two specific answers to prayer in the category of “heart work.” A woman in our congregation wrote this note to me a few weeks ago. “God has been drawing me near to Him. He wakes me up earlier in the morning and I'm filled with excitement at getting up to read the word and be in prayer! I haven't had a desire like this to just spend time with Him in years. I find myself praying for 20-25 minutes and not wanting to stop!! God is so good! I pray that our church experiences an awakening in our prayer and personal time with the Lord.” This is answered prayer – hope realized!
Here’s another which came just this past week. I received a message from another woman who has been having a deeper spiritual conversation with a friend. She asked me if the Scripture passages that she had in mind were a good fit for ministering to her. As I responded, I also praised God. This is active disciple-making – the very purpose of The Church being experienced by one of our members. Praise the Lord!
God does answer prayer as we continue to seek Him with humility and perseverance. As you see evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in our church, in your life or in your sphere of relationships, please share those stories. For some, it will feel like seeing the sun after months of rain.