I have a hard time trusting that God will follow through. A really tough time.
Growing up I prayed every night and felt like my prayers were rarely answered. Of course, now, I understand that God answered them in a way that was even better–but it fostered a culture in me that felt like I had to do everything myself.
This fostered anxiety and mistrust, and others could see this. I overworked to compensate for my lack of trust that God could make things happen after I clock out.
Here’s my first example of how I’m learning: 2 years ago, we had 8 Small Group Leaders for all of our Middle School because it was so tough to find dedicated adults, and this year I set the goal of 24 in order to meet the needs of the growing ministry. The school year had already started and I still needed 6 SGLs, but I split them into the appropriate-sized groups anyway, trusting that these people would come out of the woodwork and join the team. And they did. This was one way that God showed me that I could live my life as if he’s already answering my prayers.
Since, I’ve tried to apply this principle in other areas of my ministry, but also my life.
This week my cat got loose when transporting her out of the house and ran off. I couldn’t find her, and I was trying not to become hysterical. A friend came to help me search for her, and they were so surprised that I wasn’t crying or panicking. In fact, it was me who said multiple times that I think we should stop searching. She had a collar, a microchip, and a very fattened body. Even though she’s down one eye and 7 teeth, she’s a good mouser. I just need to trust she will come home.
Now, don’t get me wrong–I still worried. I was sick.
But I went to work the next day, trusting she’d come home.
And when I came home, there she was.
I was living as if that prayer was answered, and once again, it calmed me and the prayer was answered.
I recognize that there’s a tension though, as I write this: How do some prayer requests get answered, and others not so much?
I can’t answer that.
But I can say that there have been times where I’ve practiced the principle of “living as if my prayers are already answered” and when they aren’t answered, it hasn’t hurt as much.
A few weeks ago one of our volunteers asked me “How do you know our prayers are working?” And I stared at the email, mouth agape and dumbfounded. What a silly question.
But I realize that we have this question. We want to know if God hears our prayers.