When something interesting happens, I take notice. When it happens again, I pay serious attention. But if it happens three times, I ask God what He wants me to learn. Little did I know that, as I applied my mascara one morning last week, God was about to get my attention. He had something awesome to show me, in triplicate, about specific prayer!
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”1 John 5:13-15
Step one came by way of a story shared on Thursday.
I was getting ready for work and listening to a recorded Bible Study. The teacher recounted a time when her friend called with an urgent prayer request. She fell immediately to her knees to pray and found herself petitioning God in specific prayer for a highly detailed and improbable solution, which surprised her, even as she prayed it. But then she explained how her friend called back several minutes later with an update and the craziest story, which she thought would never be believed. But as she listened, this teacher realized that God had answered with the exact, apparently-not-so-improbable, resolution she had asked for!
Step two came by way of a personal experience on Sunday.
I had a burden to share a particular Biblical truth with someone who has a short attention span for serious matters. I prayed for God to:
1) provide a quiet time without distractions,
2) give her the ability to concentrate,
3) cause me to recognize and seize the moment, and
4) clear her mind to receive and understand what He wanted her to hear. On Sunday morning, God answered my specific prayer, exactly as I had asked, in sequence.
Step three came by way of a praise report from my son on Tuesday.
I received a call from my son, filling me in on what God has been doing in his life while he has been away visiting friends. One story caught my attention because it was about a specific prayer that he had prayed; one that he thought to be incredibly far-fetched. But God came into his situation and walked him through it exactly as he had requested.
We don’t tell God what to do. I don’t think for a second that God heard any of our suggestions and decided to carry out our will. No, I believe He put His plans on our hearts and made them tremendously unique, so that when He did exactly as He intended, our faith was strengthened. We came out of it knowing that we heard God’s voice. We spoke it back to Him in specific prayer and got confirmation as He carried it out. We simply couldn’t conclude that it was coincidence when each instance was so completely distinct and wildly precise.
Are you intrigued too? I believe God has been displaying the value of specific prayer and encouraging me to be more faithful and courageous in the way I pray. He has reminded me that prayer is more than just an upload from my heart to His. It is also a download, and God actively pursues connection with me, and with you. Are we ready? What an amazing thing that God, with everything in hand, would take the time to impress upon us what He is about to do, just so that we can be involved and encouraged by His answers to our specific prayer!