A Prayer Experiment, Part 1
I had the pleasure of starting a brand-new SOAP journal a couple weeks back. My nerdy side loves office supplies in general, but especially loves the fresh pages of a new journal. All of my SOAP journals have pages to record prayer requests along with the date and the date answered. So far, those pages have remained blank in each of my journals. I just never got into the habit of writing stuff down. Partially because I know what I’m praying for and partially because I think there’s been an underlying fear, “What if the answered column remains blank? I don’t want a catalog of all the times God didn’t answer.”
It seems the theme of my life lately is Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done”, so those blank pages called to me and I started writing stuff down. I only jot down a word or two, mostly as a reminder that something was important enough to talk to Jesus about.
6/9/15: “Rain” As a Californian, I feel like I’m obligated to make this my prayer request until the drought is over, so it was one of the first prayers I wrote down. I checked the weather report the day before; it was supposed to be hot this week. Within a couple hours after writing my prayer, the clouds started to gather. When I watched the news that night, they said we could expect thunderstorms overnight and in the morning. Are you kidding me, God? I meant we needed rain in general, not necessarily today. Rain it did overnight and again in the afternoon. I was in awe, feeling like Elijah staring at fire raining down from heaven to light wet logs on fire (1 Kings 18). There are undoubtedly a million meteorological reasons we had rain out of the blue, but with certainty I knew I prayed for rain and God showed up.
Another prayer I wrote was “money for groceries,” which was far more specific. Basically, I wanted enough money for groceries to make it through the week before Matt got paid again. I was disappointed when a check didn’t magically appear in the mail that day, but I also felt like God wasn’t done yet. It was as if he whispered, “Wait.” The next day, as I was looking in the pantry, I randomly grabbed a fruit pouch and asked Thomas if he wanted one. Those pouches have been in the pantry for quite some time, since Thomas would literally grunt and turn his head as if I were offering him poison when presented with one. He took the pouch and ate half of it right away. Later that night, he finished the pouch and ate a second one the next day. Again, I’m sure one could find an explanation [like he just wasn’t tired of them anymore], but I knew it was an answer to prayer. No money magically appeared, but what we had stretched more than it should have and we made it through the week on the little money we had.
Honestly, both of these experiences left me speechless. I mean, I know cognitively that Jesus answers prayers, but it still surprised me to see how obvious it was. The simple act of writing things down gave me eyes to see the way God shows up, even when it doesn’t look as I expect it to look (as with money for groceries). Further, the simple act of recording the ways my prayers were answered gives a catalog of how faithful God is, not a log of disappointments as I feared.
But there are prayers—important prayers—that still have a blank spot where I would write an answer, had they been answered. What about those prayers? They’re too important to squeeze into this post, so stay tuned for part 2 in my prayer experiment.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in jotting down your prayers, so that God may give you eyes to see his faithfulness.