Expectant Prayer

It’s a new year. A new beginning. A fresh start.

I know a lot of people hate “New Year’s Resolutions”, but I love taking the time to look ahead and set some goals for the upcoming year. Honestly, many of mine are similar to the ones I had last year. But it’s a great time to refocus and get back on track.

Here are my {abridged} goals for 2015:

  1. Yell less, pray more
  2. Read the Bible daily; read 1-2 books monthly
  3. Blog once per week
  4. Attempt to run a combined 2,015 miles with Jon
  5. Run a race once per quarter
  6. Continue kid dates twice a month and family adventures twice a month
  7. Date night once a week
  8. Pay off credit card debt and keep it off!
  9. Drink at least 75 ounces of water daily, track calories, eat more fruits & veggies, reach goal weight
  10. Work on photography and knitting

* Evaluate the 1st of the month (or every Monday depending on the goal)… know that His mercy is new every morning! And I can push the restart button anytime 🙂

This blog is about my 1st goal: yell less, pray more.

Confession: I’m a bit of a yeller. I sometimes yell at my kids more than I know I should. It’s usually because they didn’t listen the first time, so I have to keep repeating myself. And each time I repeat myself, I get a little louder. Until I’m yelling… and consequently being plagued with guilt. We are in the midst of a parenting course, and I’m learning how to avoid the yell. Nevertheless, my first goal on my list – yell less. I’ve found that when I yell, I’m relying on myself. I’m overwhelmed, and I’m looking inward. So instead of yelling, I want to replace that with praying more – with relying on God more. I want to be overwhelmed with His love and His grace, my eyes totally fixed on Him, so that I respond to frustration in prayer (not with yelling).

Prayer in its simplest form is talking to God. It’s about our personal relationship with Him… that He longs to have with us! It’s not all about coming before Him and rambling off a list. It involves the heart. God wants heartfelt, meaningful prayers. He also wants us to take time to listen, to seek Him first.

I love the example that Daniel set in prayer – thanking God, and asking for help (Daniel 6:10-11). I love that Jesus taught us to always pray and not give up (Luke 18:1-8). I also love the story of fervent (earnest) prayer found in Acts 12.

Every week different people at my church memorize passages of Scripture and recite them before the congregation. It was my turn last Sunday. I memorized Acts 12:1-19 and recited it before our pastor preached on it. I really do love the passage – “Peter’s Miraculous Release From Prison.” And as I was practicing the verses and writing God’s word on my heart, and as our pastor was preaching on it, there was something that jumped out at me that I just couldn’t shake.

In Acts 12, the church was gathered together, praying earnestly, urgently, desperately for Peter to be released from prison. Prayer was their only weapon against King Herod.

“We that live in a cold, prayerless generation, can hardly form an idea of the earnestness of these holy men of old. But if the Lord should bring on the church an awful persecution like this of Herod, the faithful in Christ would learn what soul-felt prayer is.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

While they’re praying, an angel comes and rescues Peter from prison. Peter goes to Mary’s house and knocks on the door. Rhoda, the servant girl, goes to answer the door, but when she recognizes Peter’s voice, she’s so overjoyed she runs back to tell the others that Peter is there! He’s alive – he’s free! In her excitement, she forgot to open the door 🙂 She knows that everyone has been praying for Peter to be set free, and she can’t wait to tell them that God has answered their prayers.

“These Christians continued in prayer for Peter, for they were truly in earnest. Thus men ought always to pray, and not to faint. As long as we are kept waiting for a mercy, we must continue praying for it. But sometimes that which we most earnestly wish for, we are most backward to believe.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

The believers were praying fervently, but they almost missed the answer to their prayers. They didn’t believe Rhoda, even though what she said was what they were praying for. They called her crazy, telling her she was out of her mind! Bless Rhoda and her faith-filled heart… the Bible says she kept insisting that it was Peter – she was sure of it and she wasn’t going to back down. She probably bothered them so much that they had to go to the door to prove her wrong. But she proved her God right – He had done the impossible, the miraculous! Everyone was amazed – astonished! But they almost missed it. They weren’t expecting God to answer their prayers in this way. Maybe they were expecting something else would happen, that Peter would be rescued a different way. The trial was set for the next day – maybe God would do something then.

God cannot be boxed. He can move however He wants. We can pray and ask, but He’s not obligated to respond exactly how we want. He’s GOD! But we can always pray expectant prayers. Praying in faith (our faith is pleasing to God), believing God for what we ask for, not limiting Him or putting Him in a box, but expecting Him to move on our behalf. Because He loves us! The answer may not be what we wanted… but we can pray expecting Him to answer. We can pray and then look (or listen) for His answer.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” – James 1:5-8 (The Message)

This year, instead of yelling, I want to pray more, asking God for help and strength and love. He is more than able! God is there for us – we just have to reach out to Him. Prayer is such a powerful tool against the enemy and his schemes. And what an amazing way to increase our faith – praying expectant prayers, open to unexpected answers. Rest in God’s loving arms, full of trust and hope. Listen and look for Him in the answers to your prayers.

“God is the One we pray to, He is the One we need. God is the object of our earnest prayer. He determines the outcome. Looking forward to 2015, our prayer life is critical… our regard for God as One we should approach in big and little things, confidently and earnestly.” – Pastor Scott Culver (Sermon: “Herod’s Persecution” from January 4, 2015 – http://www.dcchurch.org/sermons)

 

This Week’s Song Suggestions:

“Immeasurably More” by Rend Collective – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2tcq8DE8-U

“Desert Soul” also by Rend Collective – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpbhB6MEekc

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